Australians Worried about Another Singaporean Investment

Since Singtel-Optus, the Australians were worried that their economy and house brands are being bought over bit by bit by Singapore. Playing the nationalistic and xenophobic card, during the Singtel-Optus deal, allegations of Singapore spying on Australians were even brought up. The SP-Ausnet merger is another source of unhappiness for Down Under this decade.

Now the proposed SGX-ASX deal. The Greens are leading the charge this time drawing emotional links that Singapore has a bad human rights record and that is why the SGX should not merge with the ASX. Excluding the Australia’s imperfect human rights records themselves and their xenophobia, the economic merits of the merger are left aside. Australia should keep to its word about free market principles and allow foreign investment, the very principles that boosted its economy according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nevertheless, seems like Canberra is deciding rather than Sydney regardless if the SGX-ASX merger makes sense for the latter. The question is, would we react the same way if ASX wants to buy over SGX being pragmatic and money-making Singaporeans that we are?

Robb cautions against early ASX talk
October 27, 2010 – 9:14AM

Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb has cautioned against making hasty comments about a flagged foreign takeover of Australia’s securities exchange.

The Singapore Exchange has launched a multi-billion-dollar bid for the ASX, which would create the world’s fifth largest stock exchange.

The government and opposition have yet to declare a formal position on the deal, although both have said any approval should be made in the nation’s interest.
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“To make any precipitous comments would not be helpful,” Mr Robb told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

The coalition planned to have discussions with former ASX chairman Maurice Newman about his reported views on the deal, he said.

Mr Newman has warned that rejection of the proposal risked consigning Australia to the ranks of a financial backwater.

He said the government itself was responsible for the exchange’s decision to seek a partner because the concept of a central market had been damaged by granting an exchange licence to a rival firm, ChiX.

Mr Robb said ChiX’s entry into the local market was a likely influence on the coalition’s “careful consideration” of the Singapore proposal.

The Australian Greens and at least one independent MP, Bob Katter, have flagged opposition to the deal.

Greens leader Bob Brown said the ASX was the barometer of national economic health and investment.

“We should not see it simply as a purchase of another company,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“To put that into Singaporean hands is not a thing that should be undertaken lightly.”

Senator Brown said when the government and regulators looked at the deal in the clear light of day, they would give it “the thumbs down”.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon raised concerns about the national interest test the Foreign Investment Review Board was likely to apply to the deal.

“It is about as strong as blubber,” he said, adding its definition was “quite vague”.

“It doesn’t take into account issues of competition, issues of potential job losses, it doesn’t take into account a whole range of factors that we ought to be looking at.”

Senator Xenophon queried how the Singapore government would respond to a reverse takeover of its exchange by the ASX.

“I think we all know what the answer would be,” he said.


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