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2010: IRs open for business

SGX woos ASX, CAD probes City Harvest Church.


THE task of rebuilding and preparing for the future took priority as the worst of the global financial crisis faded into the rear-view mirror, and big ambitions and schemes, not all of them successful, dominated the news in 2010.

A new era for Singapore's entertainment and tourism scene began in January when Resorts World Sentosa became the first integrated resort (IR) to open its doors in the country. Marina Bay Sands would follow a few months later.

The new IRs enjoyed immense popularity right from the start and quickly established themselves as prime destinations for tourists and event organisers. More importantly, the IRs proved to be contributors to the economy, from tourism dollars to jobs and construction activity. The success was seen as a vindication of Singapore's bet on the IR concept years before.

Also thinking big was Singapore Exchange's newly appointed chief executive, Magnus Bocker, who launched a bid for Australia's ASX not long after he took over the reins.

The move by Mr Bocker, who had built his reputation merging the Nordic bourses and Nasdaq, gave the Singapore corporate scene a shot of excitement with visions of creating one of the largest stock exchanges in the world. The S$10.7 billion cashand- equity takeover bid was made after a weekend of negotiations, and would have been fully paid through loans and internal resources.

But those dreams were not to be. Both sides of the deal had underestimated the level of opposition from unwelcoming Australian lawmakers, who ultimately blocked the merger.

A big scheme of a different sort had been taking place behind closed doors at megachurch City Harvest, which became the target of an investigation by the Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore's white collar-crime investigation unit. The case centred on elaborate financial transactions orchestrated by the church's leadership, and eventually led to convictions of six of the church's leaders, including founder Kong Hee.

The Business Times has been there to report and analyse the most significant news since 1976. Every week, this feature will showcase excerpts from the biggest stories for each year that the paper has been in operation. The full text of all the stories can be found online at

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