Curtains for a serial banker


In March 2006, the curtains were drawn on the controversial banking career of Khoo Teck Puat when his estate inked a deal to sell his stake in Standard Chartered Bank to the Singapore government for $4 billion. Here is an inside look at the former bank clerk and an ex-fugitive who built a multi-billion dollar fortune in seven decades.

It was late 1965 and Tungku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaysia, was feeling the heat.

The father of independent Malaysia had just ended the disagreeable business of overseeing the secession of Singapore from the Federation of Malaysia. The tiny city-state, led by the forceful Cambridge-trained lawyer, Lee Kuan Yew, had declared itself a sovereign nation.

Jinxed deals

Call it the Law of Unintended Consequences. In the past 12 months the Khoo family dealt twice with the Singapore government. And twice it caused major headaches for the parties involved.

Foreign dragon, local snake


From Wheelock Marden to Standard Chartered....

In 1985, Khoo Teck Puat and shipping magnate, Y. K. Pao, waged an epic tussle for the venerable British trading house, Wheelock Marden.

March 2006, a flashback


A look at what happened in North Asian businesses, three years to this day.

More woes for Yamaha Motor
The Japanese company, already under investigation for the alleged sale of helicopters to Poly Technologies, a firm linked to the People’s Liberation Arm of China, for military uses, is now suspected of selling an aircraft to another firm affiliated to the Chinese military.

January 2006

Walk, not drive, Mazda staff are told 
Employees of the Japanese carmaker are given $12 a month to encourage them to walk to the office to improve their health and protect the environment.

Lexus doing well in Japan
Latest figures from Toyota showed that the sale of Lexus, which was introduced in the Japanese market for the first time in August, has far exceeded expectations. A total of 4,600 units of the GS and SC models were sold in that month, three times higher than projected.

Risky high risers


This September, the Burj will be completed in the United Arab Emirates, making it the world's tallest building. Yet it seems everytime a record-breaking skyscraper goes up, the financial market in the country goes down. measures the Curse of the Skyscraper Index.

What is the likelihood that Shanghai will be hit by a recession next year?

November 2008

US ho!
Tokyo Marine Holdings, Japan’s largest non-life insurer by sales, is buying Philadelphia Consolidated Holdings, an American non-life insurer, for US$4.7 billion.

Early death
Zhang Sheng Yu, 39, has become the latest of Chinese listed company CEOs to suffer an early death. The head of the venerable pharmacy chain Tong Reng Tang, listed in Shanghai, died of a sudden heart attack on July 22.

Loan shark days
The credit crunch has hit China so badly that some smaller companies and individuals are borrowing money at 600% per month, according to local media.

August 2008

Please wait
Australia will make a decision "in a few months" on whether Sinosteel Corp can take a stake in Murchison Metals, after Sinosteel made a A$1.36 billion (US$1.3 billion) bid for Murchison’s rival, Midwest Corp.


Empty space
Demand for prime office space in Japan has shown signs of waning as foreign financial institutions hold back expansion plans in the face of the fallout from the subprime crisis.

Video game winner
Almost written off two years ago, Nintendo has captured the top spot in Japan for "Innovation in Responding to Customer Needs" with its Wii in the Wall Street Journal Asia’s latest Asia 200 survey of readers.

July 2008

Japanese annual inflation hit 1.2% in March, the highest in a decade. This helped trigger a huge sell-off in yen bonds in late April after the figures were released. Investors feared Japan had little immunity from price increases and its central bank might be forced to raise rates, despite a weak economy.

Nobody really believes these figures, but here they are: Macau’s unemployment rate officially dipped 0.3 percentage point to 2.9 per cent in the first quarter, with its population standing at 530,000. In fact Macau now has so many illegal immigrants from neighbouring Guangdong and Fujian that its actual population is probably closer to 1 million. Employment – both legal and illegal – is running at full tilt.

Singapore and Hong Kong

In the long running pissing match between Singapore and Hong Kong, the latter seems to have won the latest round. Well, sort of.

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100 DAYS

100 days blogAn imaginary factual blog of General David Petraeus, Commander, United States Central Command