Latest Insight

March 15, 2023


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Don't simply face the figures. Know the faces behind the figures.

Get up Close and Personal with Movers and Shakers

When analysing companies, we believe in knowing the management rather than staring at cold hard numbers.

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Remember Extrim?

Slimming pills earn fat margins. I learnt this from Kenneth Goh, whom I first met in 2004 when the company he founded listed on the SGX

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Starting the Year of the Rabbit with a Cut

Haircut at Jean Yip Salon before visiting Jean Yip for CNY.

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CNY Cheer for Hotels

My CNY house visit to Albert Teo’s place three years ago wasn’t particularly auspicious.

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Best Hand Wins

With Q&M CEO Ng Chin Siau, Food Empire Chairman Tan Wang Cheow and Tung Lok COO Tjioe Ka In.

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Cityneon raises money from Temasek-backed fund

Ron Tan, CEO of Cityneon, had some good news to share when I visited his house earlier today. Temasek-backed 65 Equity Partners has just invested S$150m in his company.

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SPH Media’s new top dog

Congrats Wong Wei Kong on your promotion to the top job in SPH Media. I wish there was an abbreviation for your new role. Editor-in-Chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media (EMTM) Group is quite a mouthful.

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SIAS Most Outstanding CEO Award

I was judging for the ‘Most Outstanding CEO Award’ at the SIAS Investors’ Choice Awards.

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First Aid no longer needed for First REIT

Victor Tan, CEO of First REIT, is a much happier man now.

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Marco Polo makes convincing turnaround

Sean Lee is a fighter. It was not apparent when I first got to know him in 2010. Back then was a great time to be an offshore marine vessel owner, as oil prices were climbing towards record levels.

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Largest listed fund manager finds value play

Vincent Toe is the CEO of Yangzijiang Financial (YZJF), the largest fund management company listed on the SGX with an AUM of S$4.6 billion. It is backed by Yangzijiang Shipbuilding (YZJ), one of the largest shipbuilders in the world. Since it’s first day of trading in April 2022, YZJF’s share price has dived 40% to … Read more

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Pubbing at Stamford Land

Met Ow Yew Heng in the in-house British-styled pub in his HQ. He runs companies in two of the hottest sectors now – hospitality and shipping. His family owns and operates SGX-listed Stamford Land and Singapore Shipping Corp. Heng is the CEO of Stamford Land, Australasia’s largest independent owner-operator of luxury hotels. It was reported … Read more

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Kopi with Tembusu’s Andy Lim

Good catching up with Andy Lim, chairman of private equity firm Tembusu Partners. A few common investments, and many common friends.

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Innotek readies for impending storm-with cash

Met up with Neal Chandaria, the chairman and controlling shareholder of Innotek. His family is also a major shareholder and founder of Venture Corp, the largest manufacturer listed on the SGX. Innotek was formerly known as Mangecomp, a company I covered a couple of decades ago. It’s core HDD business was sold off about 15 … Read more

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Marcus Chu drives ERA to record numbers

Congrats on the official opening of the ERA APAC Building today, Marcus Chu! Few people can boast better on the ground knowledge of the property market. As CEO of real estate agency ERA, he oversees 8,000 agents who raked in a record $740m in commissions last year. That’s close to a quarter of the Singapore … Read more

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Dentist attempts to save No Signboard

Caught up with Dr Chin Siau Ng, CEO of Singapore’s largest dental chain Q&M with 100 clinics here (another 42 in Malaysia). He made news recently for taking a controlling stake in No Signboard Holdings, the embattled seafood restaurant group best known for its white pepper crab. The Catalist-listed firm was suspended from trading in … Read more

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Blast from the past with Natsteel Electronics

Over breakfast yesterday, Chay Yee Meng reminded me that we last met up for coffee before I got married. That’s almost 15 years ago. We first met when he was the CFO of Natsteel Electronics, the largest contract manufacturer in Singapore and the sixth largest in the world. Apple was its top client, accounting for … Read more

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Kim Heng’s riding on high oil prices and reaping the benefits

I met up with Thomas Tan, CEO of Kim Heng, for coffee. The offshore & marine company his family founded has bucked the trend, with its share price surging 40% over the past week as it is seen as a beneficiary of the climbing oil price. I first met Thomas back in 2008 when he … Read more

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Russia and Ukraine’s top instant coffee maker sees tough times

Tan Wang Cheow, founder of Food Empire, started doing business in Russia in the late 1980s, when it was still known as Soviet Union. The adventurous accountant built a coffee empire there, before expanding to other far-flung countries like Iran, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Notably, Food Empire’s MacCoffee is the #1 instant coffee brand in both … Read more

Privatisation Yields 50x Return

Privatisation Yields 50x Return for this entrepreneur

It has been a while since I caught up with Aztech Global’s founder Michael Mun. I knew him back in 2005 when I initiated coverage on his company. It’s core tech manufacturing business was doing well up till 2007, but started to struggle after. Michael made a strategic decision to diversify into a couple of … Read more

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Queen of Pawn

Like most kids, Yeah Lee Ching grew up playing with building blocks. Except that her blocks were made of gold.


Chew Sutat – The man who took away his dad’s lunch

I met up with Chew Sutat, senior managing director of SGX, on his last day of work. He is perhaps the only man I know who took away his dad’s lunch. Back in 2011, SGX introduced the all-day continuous trading that marked the end of the 90-minute lunch break for the army of 3,000 remisiers in … Read more

Coffee with Salleh Marican, Founder of Second Chance Properties

Blast from the past with Salleh Marican, founder of Second Chance Properties

I am reminded of my growing up years every time I catch up with Salleh, as he built up one of the most popular clothing labels back then.

Trafigura’s Asia-Pacific CEO Tan Chin Hwee launched a book titled ‘Values at the Core How Human Values Contribute to the Rise of Nations’

Trafigura’s Asia-Pacific CEO Tan Chin Hwee launches a new book

He takes a different spin on why economies grow at different speeds, and suggests that human values should be the starting point to assess the growth potential of any country.

Coffee with Boyd Au, Founder of Electronics Distributor, Enzer

Enzer’s founder Boyd Au used to find breakfast a challenge

Growing up in Boys’ Home, the kids with the biggest fist and toughest knuckles got the thickest kaya bread at breakfast. He wasn’t always so lucky.

Catch up with Soon Huat Toh Chairman of Sian Chay Medical

Toh Soon Huat’s building up the coffers at Sian Chay Medical

Two months ago, Toh Soon Huat led the 118-year old Sian Chay Medical – which provides free TCM treatment and highly subsidised medication – to raise over $8m in its inaugural TV charity show.

Catch up with Dennis Goh, Lyte's Chairman

Hanging out with Dennis Goh, founder of Lyte and Hungrygowhere

Dennis Goh, best known for starting HungryGoWhere, was my primary school buddy. He was also my wedding emcee. During my wedding preparations back in 2007, Dennis excitedly showed me and my heng dais (groomsmen) his venture.

It all started with a crash, says Mothership’s founder Lien We King

A former fund manager and trained DJ, We King is an accidental mediapreneur.

Meet up with Teo Ser Luck

Retired minister Teo Ser Luck seeds startups

The recent election must have been a strangely peaceful affair for Teo Ser Luck. He stepped down from politics this year, after a 14-year stint as Member of Parliament.

Catch up with Frederick CH Lim

‘Mr Money Mind’ Frederick Lim’s retirement plan not panning out… for now

The award-winning producer of CNA’s Money Mind wanted to see more of the world following his retirement, but travel plans have to be put on hold indefinitely.

Catch up with Lee Sze Hao for breakfast the CEO of Sing Holdings lamented

Bee hoon brekkie with Lee Sze Hao, CEO of Sing Holdings

Met Lee Sze Hao in his favourite kopitiam on Beach Road for breakfast. Over fried bee hoon, the CEO of Sing Holdings lamented that he just lost out on piece of government land in Fernvale by a whisker.

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Dr Ng Chin Siau, CEO of Q&M Dental, prepares for Covid war

Chin Siau hardly got to enjoy Chinese New Year as he was scrambling for surgical masks. Not for himself, but his army of healthcare professionals.

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MTQ CEO Kuah Boon Wee, a man of diverse interest

Prior to running the offshore & marine engineering company, Boon Wee held senior management roles in some of the largest companies in the region,

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Monster budget targeted to help retail and F&B

Tomorrow’s Budget is going to be the most closely watched in years, as it will be unleashed during extraordinary circumstances. Will desperate times call for desperate measures? I believe that this year’s Budget will be bigger, bolder and dare I say, a blockbuster.

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Multi-hyphenate Tan Chin Hwee manages Singapore’s largest company

The commodities trading company is Singapore’s largest firm by revenue, racking up US$180 billion last year. Sales doubled in the past 5 years that Chin Hwee was at the helm.

Visited Albert Teo, CEO of Amara on the Second Day of CNY

Albert Teo, CEO of Amara, says tough times coming for hoteliers

In an unprecedented move, Singapore just announced that it will shut its borders to visitors from China due to the coronavirus. The impact will be big as China has in recent years become our largest market, accounting for almost 20% of total tourist receipts.

Visited the Uber-hospitable Jean Yip during CNY with my family

CNY House Visit – Jean Yip

Jean Yip and hubby Mervin Wee built a wellness empire that is well documented. From a single shop in Katong Plaza back in the early 1980s, they now have close to 80 hairdressing and beauty outlets. These include the Cheryl W chain, which is run by their actress daughter Cheryl.

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Food Empire’s founder Tan Wang Cheow builds a global leader

Food Empire’s founder/chairman Tan Wang Cheow may be soft spoken and unassuming, but he is quite a mean marketing machine. How else can you explain the way he created demand for instant coffee in Russia, where tea is almost a religion.

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Catching up on old times with Peter Lee, former CFO of OSIM

Kopi with Peter Lee, the former CFO of OSIM. He was instrumental in powering a sharp turnaround in OSIM’s fortunes between 2009 and 2013, a period which saw the share price jump over 40x!

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Going back a long way with SIAS founder David Gerald

SIAS founder David Gerald goes against the odds to deliver on his promises. The exception was a promise he made to his wife Rajmala some 20 years back to take her around the world after he retired as a lawyer.

Lunched with Tan Kim Siong, better known as Fei Siong (Fatty Siong)

Man behind kopitiam giant Fei Siong

Many may look at him and wonder about his nickname. This svelte granddad was actually quite a bit bigger in his younger days.

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Business Times bids farewell to one of its finest

Business Times bids farewell to one of its finest. Kenneth Lim, the award winning deputy news editor, is leaving SPH after 16 years. In my opinion, he pens some of the best headlines and stories the paper has seen, in the league of legends like Conrad Raj and Lee Han Shih.

Coffee with Motley Fool's David Kuo

Coffee with Motley Fool’s David Kuo

We were judges in CNA’s Money Mind Challenge (Singapore’s first televised stock competition) two years back and had a blast of a time.

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Sunday Times Invest Editor Lorna Tan launches new book

Her latest book ‘Money Smart – Own Your Own Financial Destiny’ will be hitting the bookshelves this weekend.

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Enviro-Hub founder Raymond Ng’s hobby

Caught up with an old friend who runs a listco involved in recycling, renewable energy and piling.

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ISOTeam is turning around, suggests CEO Anthony Koh

If you value a stock solely based on the financial information available on the Bloomberg Terminal, you may miss out turnaround businesses.

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Coffee with Albert Teo at his flagship Amara Hotel

Homegrown Amara Holdings has slowly and safely grown its hotel presence in the region. Such investments are capital intensive and can pose a potential risk to shareholders.

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Yongnam CEO Seow Soon Yong catches up in neighbourhood kopitiam

I had breakfast with Yongnam’s CEO Seow Soon Yong at our neighbourhood kopitiam. Yongnam completed a fundraising exercise the day before, raising S$15m through convertible bonds.

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Cityneon sees 600% gains under CEO Ron Tan

Ron Tan, CEO of Cityneon, continues to be busy after privatising his company at $1.30 per share in January. Cityneon holds licenses for four brands, including Disney’s Marvel Avengers, Universal Studio’s Jurassic Park and Hasbro’s Transformers.

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Kingsmen Creatives CEO Andrew Cheng takes the IP way

Andrew Cheng, CEO of Kingsmen Creatives, brought me around his new facility in Changi. Unsurprisingly, the interior design was impeccable, given that it has over 1,800 designers in the company. It does design and renovation works for retail shops and theme parks, including Universal Studios Singapore and Disney HK and Shanghai. Lately, the margins for this business has been hit by intense competition.

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Wrong place, wrong time for First REIT’s CEO Victor Tan

First REIT was met with a series of unfortunate problems since Victor Tan stepped up to be the CEO in 2017.

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Participant in televised budget forum ‘Ask the Finance Minister’

Participated in a ‘live’ townhall meeting on the Budget with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. It was a tight one hour TV programme (48 min after commercials) and each participant was limited to a question each.

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Visiting ‘tech babies’ in Jakarta

We met up with a few of Indon-listed Kresna’s startups while in Indonesia.

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Meeting Garuda Indonesia’s subsidiary

In Indonesia last week and visited Garuda Maintenance Facility Aero Asia Tbk (GMFI), which is 90% owned by PT Garuda Indonesia.

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Croesus’ founder Jeremy Yong has the last laugh

Croesus Retail Trust was the only Japanese mall-focused trust listed in Singapore, with few investors believing in Jeremy Yong and his team.

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ERA’s property conference with Marcus Chu, COO of Apac Realty

Marcus took on the property market while I shared my views on property stocks.

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Ex-CFO of OSIM Peter Lee resurfaces at Popular

Lost and found! Ex-CFO of OSIM Peter Lee went on a hiatus following the privatisation in 2016, and re-joined the corporate scene a year later with Popular Holdings as Group CFO and Head of Singapore business.

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Visited APAC Realty’s office to meet COO Marcus Chu

He had a busy weekend with the launch of 3 prime residential developments – Fourth Avenue Residences (Allgreen), Fyve Derbyshire and RV Altitude (both Roxy-Pacific).ERA – the agency arm of APAC – was the sales leader, selling 46 units in total (40% of the units sold).

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No ‘PSLE leave’ for Adeline Sim, exec director of HRnet

Peter’s a legend in the recruitment scene in Singapore. And his work ethic is rubbing off on his daughter Adeline.

Investing Philosophy

My Investing Philosophy

Whenever anyone asks me what were some of the things that had the biggest impact on my investment philosophy, I always go back to two of the earliest stocks I covered as an analyst – Unisteel and