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Morgan Lewis to Combine with Stamford Law in Singapore to Establish Major Asian Hub

Global law firm Morgan Lewis and Singapore’s Stamford Law Corporation today announced they are joining forces to create the only fully integrated law firm in Singapore that can practice across all legal service areas. The combination will establish a business transactions, litigation, and arbitration powerhouse to serve clients with strategic interests in Singapore and across the expanding Asian marketplace. With the inclusion of approximately 80 Stamford lawyers, Morgan Lewis secures a key base of operations in this thriving global business centre from which to conduct in-bound and out-bound legal work throughout the region and internationally for clients across all major industries. Coupled with the firm’s recent addition of more than 750 lawyers and staff from Bingham McCutchen, Morgan Lewis offers clients access to truly worldwide resources that few law firms can match. Stamford has long been recognised for its outstanding work in corporate, commercial, finance, and litigation matters, providing advice to companies in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Japan, India, and across Southeast Asia. Effective April 1, the newly formed Morgan Lewis Stamford, as it will be known in Singapore, will offer the resources of more than 2,000 lawyers, patent agents, benefits advisers, regulatory scientists, and other specialists—in 29 offices worldwide. The combination also will enhance the strengths of Morgan Lewis’s other important Asia locations in Tokyo and Beijing. “We are delighted that this talented group of lawyers—who share our client-focused approach and global perspective—is joining our firm,” Firm Chair Jami McKeon said. “Singapore is a vibrant and critical business hub that serves as a regional gateway to the broader

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Philippines Presents Opportunity for Singapore Companies

With the Philippines going through an economic resurgence driven by domestic demand and economic reforms, there will be opportunities for Singapore companies as demand for consumer goods and infrastructure development in the Philippines rises, said Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang. Speaking at the Philippines-Singapore Business Council Forum, Mr Lim noted that the Philippines has achieved much progress in enhancing its business environment and competitiveness in the last decade.Mr Lim noted that investment linkages between Singapore and Philippines are strong, and bilateral trade between the two countries hit S$15 billion last year, a two percent increase over 2013.To further promote economic partnership between both countries, he said, IE Singapore has established an overseas office in Manila last year.Assistant Chief Executive Officer of IE Singapore, Mr Tan Soon Kim, who also spoke at the event, noted that many Singaporean companies are already operating in various sectors in the Philippines, such as infrastructure, telecommunications and retail. He listed examples such as Breadtalk, Keppel Offshore and Marine, and The Ascott Group.Mr Tan singled out more opportunities for Singapore businesses, in the infrastructure and consumer sectors in the country. There is a pipeline of more than 50 infrastructure projects worth about US$21 billion, and the Philippines has a large consumer market with a population of close to 100 million, he said.To realise these opportunities, Mr Tan added, IE Singapore has been working with the Philippine government agencies to share potential business opportunities with Singapore companies, and to match them with their Philippine counterparts. Source: Channelnewsasia

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Q4 Sees Philippines Economy on the Rebound

Philippine economic growth accelerated last quarter as government spending and manufacturing output rose, capping the best three years of expansion since the mid-1950s. Stocks rose to a record high, gross domestic product increased 6.9 percent in the three months through December from a year earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority said, beating the 5.3 percent gain in the previous quarter. President Benigno Aquino, who steps down in June 2016, has pledged to fix spending bottlenecks and raise outlays to a record to spur growth to as much as eight percent this year and next. His efforts are receiving a boost from plunging oil prices, which are helping slow inflation and boost consumption in the emerging nations in Asia amid a cloudy global outlook. “The key now is to accelerate infrastructure projects to expand the economy’s capacity and boost growth to the 7-8 percent level the government is targeting,” said Michael Wan, a Singapore-based economist at Credit Suisse Group AG. Low oil prices will keep inflation subdued, and “2015 should be another solid year”. Additionally, the economy expanded 6.1 percent in 2014, compared with a 7.2 percent pace reported previously for the year earlier and 6.8 percent in 2012. 

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Bank of Japan Share More Upbeat View on Economy

The Bank of Japan on Friday (Dec 19) struck a more upbeat view of the world's number three economy, saying exports were showing signs of picking up while factory output has started to "bottom out". The comments came after policymakers wrapped up a two-day meeting where they voted by an 8-1 margin to hold off fresh easing measures, after announcing in late October a huge expansion of the BoJ's asset-buying programme. The yen weakened slightly against the dollar and euro after the announcement, with the focus now on bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda's regular post-meeting news briefing later in the day for any hints about policy moves in the new year. "Japan's economy has continued to recover moderately as a trend ... (while) overseas economies -- mainly advanced economies - have been recovering, albeit with a lacklustre performance still seen in part," the BoJ said in a post-meeting statement. "In this situation, exports have shown signs of picking up." Private consumption remains "resilient" while real-estate investment has "started to bottom out", the bank said, echoing its view of factory output, which edged up 0.2 per cent on-month in October, beating market expectations. "Business sentiment has generally stayed at a favourable level, although some cautiousness has been observed," it added. The announcement came after the BoJ's quarterly Tankan survey this week showed confidence among major Japanese manufacturers edged down in the three months to December. A separate bank report Thursday highlighted caution among firms that were holding a record amount of cash equivalent to almost half the country's gross domestic product, despite calls for more

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Nikkei boosted by weaker yen and oil price fall

Japan's Nikkei index closed at its highest level for two weeks, with exporters boosted by a weaker yen and airlines helped by falling oil prices.The Nikkei 225 closed up 211.35 points, or 1.2%, at 17,459.85.Shares in exporters rose as the dollar went above 118 yen. A weaker yen helps make Japanese exports more competitive.Falling oil prices and the prospect of cheaper fuel pushed Japan Airlines' shares up 5.3%, while rival All Nippon Airways jumped 7.4%.The decision by oil producers' group Opec on Thursday to maintain current output levels sent the price of oil down sharply. Brent crude was trading at $72.49 a barrel on Friday having fallen by more than $5 on Thursday.Investors were also digesting a large amount of economic data from Japan, which painted a mixed picture of the world's third-largest economy.Excluding the effect of a large tax rise in April, the inflation rate in October was 0.9%, way below the 2% target.Including the tax rise, core inflation was 2.9% higher in October than a year ago, compared with 3% in September.Household spending fell by 4% in the year to October, but retail sales rose 1.4%, beating expectations and the unemployment rate fell from 3.6% to 3.5%.Japan's industrial output rose by more than expected, climbing 0.2% in October from the previous month - the second consecutive month of gains.Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index closed down 16.83 points at 23,987.45, while in China the Shanghai Composite ended up 52.35 points, or 2%, at 2,682.83.In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 1.6% at 5,313, its biggest percentage drop in

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China’s Economy May Have Already Surpassed the US

An update on the previous news that China is set to overtake the US economy may have already happened. The World Bank's International Comparison Program takes account of international prices to give a more accurate measure of a nation's real output. The statisticians have just completed the exercise for 2011, and they found that China's economy was 87 percent as large as the US – not the previously stated 47 percent, as output converted at market exchange rates would have you believe. Since 2011, China has grown much faster than the US. According to the World Bank's figures, China's economy will be the world's biggest before 2014 is out, if it isn't already. However, these figures do not necessarily mean that China is now rich - its living standards will not be the same as the US for many decades – and the closer those standards get, the harder it will be for China to maintain its faster growth, says Bloomberg Business Week. There is no doubt that China surpassing the US economy will become a historical milestone. As the global economy is changing faster than many are forecasting, these new rankings are a moment for reflection on the West's century-long economic dominance; which can no longer be taken for granted.

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China is Pressing for Vast Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement

China is pushing for a significant trans-Pacific free trade agreement, as a rival US-led deal that excludes the country is yet to reach an agreement. Wang Shouwen, an assistant commerce minister, told reporters at a briefing that China has proposed setting up a working group to study the feasibility of an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (FTAAP). The proposal comes ahead of a meeting in May of trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum, which China will be hosting. "The feasibility study will look into the potential economic benefits if APEC members reach a free trade agreement, how to make use of existing FTAs…and whether we can use the similar aspects of the various FTAs to serve the general FTA within the Asia-Pacific region", Wang Shouwen said. "We think there will be no conflict between the FTAAP and the region's other FTAs under discussion," he added. In addition to these proposed agreements, the US has also been trying to secure agreement on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a grouping of 12 nations including Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Mexico, all of which belong to APEC. However, these talks have been delayed due to issues related to Japan's tightly-guarded auto and agricultural sectors. The President of China, Xi Jinping, said in October 2013 that the country will "commit itself to building a trans-Pacific regional co-operation framework that benefits all parties."

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India International Insurance

The Ayes have it India International Insurance celebrates 25 years of underwriting and maintaining a superb claims record Writer Emily Jarvis Project manager Sheridan Halls India International Insurance, or III was incorporated in Singapore in November 1987, by amalgamating the four Indian state run Non-Life Insurance companies, which were operating independently in Singapore for decades. In his in-depth interview with us, CE and MD of III, Mr Ravindra Kumar stated that "this was certainly a more sound and viable option to pool resources to create a robust unit with a strong market presence." III is now owned by the five Indian Government-run General Insurance companies, namely GIC Re, New India Assurance, National Insurance, Oriental Insurance and United India Insurance, and continues to grow from strength to strength. A quarter of a century later, the company is exploring new avenues to cater to the ever-changing Insurance market environment. Kumar states that they are "evolving to stay ahead of the competition." Financial Strengths Kumar emphasises that "our main financial strength is that we have been rated by Standards & Poor as A-with a stable outlook. For the past few years, this achievement has provided us with the much needed market edge over our competitors." III has a very strong Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 300, which is much higher than the regulatory requirement. Today, III's total assets are valued at S$700 million, with a shareholder's fund of over S$300 million and investible funds of about S$650 million. A History of Success Over the last few years, III have

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ICBC first half profit up 12.4%

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has announced that its net profit rose 12.4 percent year-on-year for the first half of 2013, helped by interest income growth. Net profit for the bank for the first six months of the year stood at 138.35 billion yuan compared to 123.16 billion yuan from the same period last year. The bank's net interest income grew 5.8 percent to 215.89 billion yuan, and net fee and commission income rose 23.0 percent to 67.38 billion yuan. "In the first half of 2013, in response to the complex economic conditions both domestically and globally, ICBC forged ahead with its business transformation that strengthened cost control and enforced strict risk management," ICBC said in a statement. "These initiatives helped to enhance the support of the real economy in terms of quality and efficiency, while maintaining a steady and healthy growth momentum. "ICBC has been proactively responding to the new changes on the economic and financial landscape, as well as new trends in relation to the economic transformation," it added. China's biggest lender by assets was deposed as the world's largest lender by market capitalisation by Wells Fargo in July. ICBC has 17,125 domestic branches and claims nearly 400 million corporate and individual customers. Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Bruce Lee exhibition to hit Hong Kong

Kung fu legend Bruce Lee once said the key to immortality is living a life worth remembering. A new exhibition in Hong Kong, where Lee spent his childhood and became a martial arts film star, is being launched to celebrate the man and commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death. Forty years after his death, a new exhibition in Hong Kong is being launched to celebrate the life and achievements of its most famous son, Bruce Lee. The kung fu legend, poet, a cha cha champion, and record-breaking filmmaker was born in San Francisco and spent his childhood in what is now the Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Lee died on 20 July, 1973, from a cerebral oedema, a fatal build up of fluid on the brain. He was just 32 and the father of two young children with his wife Linda Lee Cadwell. "Bruce Lee: Kung Fu. Art. Life" opens on July 20 at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and will feature more than 600 Lee-related items, including more than 400 from the Bruce Lee Foundation – the largest number of artefacts the foundation has ever lent out – in a multimedia exhibition. It will celebrate Bruce Lee as "the pride of Hong Kong". "The legend of Bruce Lee's life is intertwined with his confidence and charisma as well as a personal background that married East and West," the Hong Kong Heritage Museum says. "Bruce Lee passed away 40 years ago, but his spirit lives on. In collaboration with the Bruce

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