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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        21  March 2011

Australian take on SGX merger

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Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan on Monday dismissed reports that a proposed A$8.4 billion (S$10.6 billion) merger between the Australian and Singaporean bourses is likely to be rejected.

The ASX and SGX announced plans last October to create one of the world's largest and most diversified financial trading hubs. But political disquiet has been growing in Australia, with concerns raised over foreign ownership and Singapore's democracy and rights record.

In a bid to address the issues, the exchanges revamped their proposal last month, promising an equal number of directors from each country. They also pledged to maintain operations, assets and key staff in Australia, and to invest in new products.

But the Australian Financial Review cited government sources on Monday predicting the deal would not pass through parliament after the proposal was submitted to Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board on March 11. Mr. Swan said such reports were speculation.

“I have no idea where those reports have come from,” he told ABC radio. 'I will take my decision on the evidence before me, based not only on the recommendation by the Foreign Investment Review Board but a thorough consideration of all the issues in good time...

“My decision will be taken in the national interest and it will have nothing to do with political considerations whatsoever,” he said. The deal must be reviewed by Australia's securities, foreign investment and competition watchdogs, as well as the central bank, and must be approved by Mr. Swan

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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