Will new funding programmes attract Indian firms to list in Singapore?

·3-min read
Representative image
Representative image

By Lee Kah Whye

Singapore, September 20 (ANI): Last week, Singapore announced a series of initiatives aimed at enticing up and coming high-growth companies to raise capital in Singapore's public equity market and broaden the city-state's appeal as a financing hub.

Together with state investment company Temasek, the government will launch a new fund starting with SGD 1.5 billion (USD 1.11 billion) of capital in the first tranche. In addition, Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) will establish a new SGD500 million (USD 371 million) IPO fund that will help "future market leaders and technology innovators" which are two or more funding rounds from public listing to grow and prepare for an eventual public listing in Singapore.

Furthermore, enhancements will be made to the Grant for Equity Market Singapore (GEMS) scheme to "support enterprises seeking to list in Singapore and to help develop Singapore's equity research ecosystem".

The fourth initiative will see SGX provide bespoke capital market solutions to high-growth startups. These range from private fundraising to enhancing liquidity and profile-building.

Details and the rationale for the various schemes were revealed in a speech by Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong at the Singapore Exchange's (SGX) Securities Market Open event on Friday, September 17.

Mr Gan said, "In the coming years, many Singaporean and Asian companies in high-growth, high-tech sectors will come of age, and seek to list on public markets. We should strive to anchor these companies in Singapore. To do this, we will make a concerted push to establish Singapore as the listing destination of choice for local and global market leaders, especially from high-growth and high-tech sectors."

Although Singapore's stock market has managed to outperform most of its regional peers, with the benchmark Straits Times Index climbing almost eight per cent since the start of the year, initial public offerings (IPOs) on the Singapore Exchange have been uninspiring. According to CNBC, in the first half of 2021, Singapore attracted just three IPOs that raised USD 200 million, while rival financial hub Hong Kong had 46 listings that raised USD 27.4 billion.

In the last decade or so, the Singapore government has successfully built a vibrant innovation and tech ecosystem which has incubated a host of startups through seed investments, grants, loans and various incubator and accelerator programmes.

The latest success story is that of Nanofilm Technologies International which provides nanotechnology coating solutions in the consumer electronics, communications and automotive industries. Since making its trading debut on the SGX last October, its share price has surged 64 per cent.

However, Nanofilm is the exception. The recent trend among Singapore tech startups is to seek public funding via the US capital markets. This is mainly due to the sophistication, depth and liquidity of the US markets. Proof of this is the 2017 listing of Singapore e-commerce and video game giant Sea Limited which has brands like Shopee and Garena under its umbrella, and the anticipated IPO of ride-hailing and food delivery "super-app" firm Grab later this year.

Although scores of Chinese companies have been listed in Singapore, only a smattering of firms from India is traded in the Singapore market. (ANI)

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