Monday, February 20, 2017

BIGWork, Fitness and Fund, drivers of success!

Hi Guys! In the course of last year, we launched quite a few new business initiatives that are starting to bear fruit. We are very blessed to be executing initiatives that are truly cutting edge. My team and I are very excited and enthused by what we are executing. The early seed of our new business thrust came when the whole initial concept was thrust into my head when I was in church. It has been nearly 3 years after that fateful day. Right now, my whole team is firing on all cylinders to get cracking. This is our most ambitious plan to date and we are proud to be executing in stages. Everything is hush hush at the moment but the adrenaline is amazing.

BIGWork, Fund and Fitness are just 3 co-sharing concepts we have introduced. In the era of shared services, we believe the only way to go is a holistic suite of shared services. It is also great for our schools as our graduating students are able to tap our resources and make something out of themselves besides working for others. BIGWork is now in 3 cities namely Singapore, Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok. The companies we are investing in under BIGFund can tap our shared network and roll out their business plans far quicker than their contemporaries. We had to sell BIG Hotel away as the offer that came in was too good to reject. Given the latest hotel occupancy statistics, I guess we did the right thing.

We are structuring a holistic approach to our clients' needs. We believe in work, living and playing BIG! Just imagine, being able to work in a great environment and access mentorship if needed. Refreshing coffee readily available and the gym is one floor away if you need a quick workout to freshen the body. The response has been encouraging as we believe that our platform of services transcends the traditional office and even the newer co-working concepts. We will be rolling out new services so as to enable our group of companies, invested companies and partners to leverage off our platform and scale greater heights together.

Till the next blog, God Bless!

Andy Ong Siew Kwee


Friday, February 17, 2017

Can Singapore compete? Thoughts about Singapore's CFE findings

 Hi Guys! Im just back from Bangkok where I attended the launch of Thailand's new economic plan launched by no less than the Prime Minister himself. Basically, Thailand 4.0 outlines their ambition to be a first world country by unveiling incentives that leaves the rest of their ASEAN neighbors trailing. I guess the coincidence of Singapore unveiling the CFE report almost at the same time warrants some sort of comparison. 

I cannot help but feel a sense of frustration that the millions spent on putting the CFE together achieved not very much. My first reaction is tell me something I do not already know. I really feel that the report lacks real substance and do not detail enough concrete steps that enhances Singapore's competitiveness. I honestly feel that in the search for ever higher value industries that some more traditional industries are being neglected. There was no mention of tourism and definitely education seems to be cast aside. These are industries that we can rely on until more concrete solutions can be found. Not to forget, the tourism industry is the biggest industry in the world by far and Australia's second biggest contributor to the economy is in the education sector. I think everyone can agree that we need to move up the value chain but our big brother in China seems to have the ability to out-spend and out-talent us. Concrete steps to out-maneuver them seems glaringly absent in the final report. 

Thailand on the other hand, seems to have adopted a far more pragmatic approach. They recognize their shortcomings and boy do they have quite a few. However, they are giving goodies like 15 years tax exemptions, 15% tax ceiling for executives working there(which is the lowest in ASEAN) as well as a host of other incentives simply too good to refuse. This was the strategy adopted by Singapore not too long ago and it seems to be working. However, we seemed to have grown a little complacent. I worry that we may fall by the wayside in the years ahead once our neighbors are able to get its act together.

Singapore does have its advantages as its the only First world country in ASEAN. The whole package of ease of doing business, low corruption and protection of assets for high net worth individuals is alluring. Let's hope we can preserve our lead in the years ahead. However, we need to bear in mind that our neighbors like Vietnam, Thailand have far larger domestic markets so we need to be on our guard. Our domestic economy is dwarfed by international economy as we are still a very export oriented country. In the face of a rising protectionist environment due to the Trump presidency, it will be good if we guard our own back yard besides wanting to conquer new territories.

It was a very hectic trip as the event was very early in the morning and the little perk I allowed myself was eating my favourite Crab Meat Fried Rice. I have my list of favourite restaurants that I crave going in all my travels. This store in Bangkok boast the 2nd best fried rice in the whole wide world.(according to me)The best was in Phuket but they lost their chef and until they get their act together, this store claims the crown. If you are keen on where I love eating at, I will be happy to share if you so desire. Just leave a message and let me know.

I will chat more about the launch of our BIGWork co-working space as well as BIGFund our funding mechanism for new emerging enterprises in my next blog so keep posted!

God Bless

Andy Ong Siew Kwee


Friday, February 10, 2017

Its been an amazing 7 years!

Hi Guys. I have been really busy over the last 7 years making long term investment moves in the Singapore real estate scene. To recollect ERC Holdings led investments into Bugis Cube, House of Tan Yeok Nee and BIG Hotel. All were meant to be use assets and long term investments but since markets moved in our favor and all made very significant returns, we divested and that caused a bit of ruckus as our silent partners all wanted bigger chunks. 

The returns we generated were very ok in my humble opinion. We made double digit millions from HTYN to well over a hundred million for Bugis Cube. All were meant to be use assets for our businesses and the joke is now we have to be leasing from others. However, we need to be counting our blessings as we have been blessed with the right deals even in difficult conditions. 

I am writing to you from the air as I find it tough to generate similar returns in Singapore now. So I have been very very busy putting together our next portfolio, which is of course outside of the country. I have just been handed a 'game changer' as this acquisition just enabled the execution of our strategy. I have been going to church and praying very hard as our very disciplined investment approach prevents us from making investments outside of our investment approach. The move just enabled us to execute our strategy for the next 10 years. I am extremely excited as I have been working on this for the last 3 years. That is why I have been so quietly and busily working hard. I flew so much in 2016 that I just counted that I made 70 odd trips in that year alone. That is 1.5 trips per week. I was joking with the air crew that I almost fly as much as them.

I have not neglected the Singapore market too as I want a bit of exposure. I just acquired a premium near Orchard Road landed property at half the peak price just 3 years ago. I have been very carefully studying the market and foresee that once the government shows any sign of removing the cooling measures, process will recover nicely. Quality always prevails and the freehold landed shows all the characteristics of quality. A stone throw away from Orchard Road and yet so quiet, you think you are in a kampong. I have been eyeing the site and bid my move when the time is right.

I will share more with you what I think of the Singapore and overseas property markets in my next post. Apologies to those of you who have been emailing me. I am not able to reply you on an individual basis as I have been very much overwhelmed. My sincere apologies again.

God Bless!

Andy Ong


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

You could have WON BIG, if you had heeded my advice

Hi Guys! Its been 2 years since my last post. I originally decided not to write anymore but many of you have been asking me what is my view of the markets. It is certainly very interesting times since my last posting. To recollect, I said almost exactly 2 years ago, the carnage we can expect. What I shared almost happened precisely according to prediction.

The finance, oil and gas as well as real estate almost ground to a halt, shedding thousands of jobs. The repercussions reverberated across the economy. To illustrate, the oil and gas sector bond defaults caused hardship to even high net worth individuals. I recalled a story where a relatively rich individual bought S$250,000 of bonds issued by a prominent oil services firm, she was eyeing the 6 plus % yield. The next day, her private banker called her and told her that the bank will loan her another quarter million at 2% so that she can double down on her bet. The result? She not only lost the first quarter million, to add insult to injury, the bank immediately set aside the other quarter million. She's out of pocket by half a million. You can hear many of such stories so its important that you know what you are doing with your money.

I told you I expected the worst to happen in 3Q of 2016. Well, prices have tumbled significantly since then across the board. This is exactly what I predicted, please do not take my word for it but check the contents of my last posting. Kudos to you who managed to liquidate at the right price. However, if you did and feeling rather naked without any real estate, what should your next moves be? Of course, I always put my money on where my mouth is and I will share with you what I am investing in now if you can LIKE this post. Till then, Happy New Year and HUAT AH!

Your Friend,

Andy Ong