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No Confirmation on NU Reattribution Until 2010 Print E-mail

IFAOnline, UK – 23 February 2009

Norwich Union's with-profits policyholders are unlikely to receive their cash from the reattribution of its inherited estate until 2010.

As the firm now wishes to negotiate a variable figure for the reattribution, eligible investors are now faced a degree of uncertainty over how much money will receive.

Norwich Union will announce the new value of its inherited estate on 5 March, which is expected to have fallen significantly from the £2.1bn valuation of July 2008.

The firm hopes to have negotiated a new deal with policyholder advocate Clare Spottiswoode by early April.

However, the legal process, which has to gain High Court and FSA approval, means policyholders will have to wait for more than eight months before knowing how much money their will receive.

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Singapore PM Says Reviewing Financial Regulations Print E-mail

Reuters – 19 February 2009, Singapore

Singapore is reviewing financial sector regulations to reduce shocks to the system, its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday.

He said it is unlikely a bank in Singapore will fail, but the authorities would remain alert to any contagion or systemic risk from a global financial crisis that has driven the Southeast Asian city-state into its worst ever recession.

"We are reviewing our regulations," he said at a dinner to mark Standard Chartered's 150th anniversary in Singapore. "Our basic framework has worked well, but we are scrutinising the system to minimise vulnerabilities." 

Singapore on Tuesday reported its non-oil domestic exports fell 35 percent in January from a year ago -- the worst performance on record -- and the government expects the economy to shrink by up to 5 percent this year. 

"We expect our economy to have a very difficult year ahead," Lee said. "We must remain vigilant."

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Singapore January Exports Plunged 35 percent Print E-mail

AP – 17 February 2009

Singapore's non-oil exports plunged 35 percent in January as global demand collapsed, a bad 2009 omen for a region that's prospered during the last decade largely on selling goods abroad.

Exports, which account for two-thirds of the city-state's gross domestic product, fell in January to 10.0 billion Singapore dollars ($6.6 billion), according to Trade and Industry Ministry figures released Tuesday. Exports fell a seasonally adjusted 3.2 percent in January from the previous month.

"Singapore is setting the wrong sort of records," said Robert Prior-Wandesforde, senior Asian economist at HSBC in Singapore. "The extreme weakness in exports ... will certainly last into the second quarter of this year, as global domestic demand continues to crumble."

Singapore was the first Asian country to report its January export figures, and the dismal numbers bode ill for the region. While Singapore relies more on demand from the West than most other Asian countries, such a steep drop in sales abroad could be a harbinger of an ugly first quarter.

Singapore's economy, battered by declines in manufacturing, finance and tourism, contracted a seasonally adjusted, annualized 16.9 percent decline in the fourth quarter.

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Singapore's GIC Losses About 33 Bln USD: Sources Print E-mail

AFP – 17 February 2009

Government of Singapore Investment Corp, which has helped bail out troubled global financial institutions, suffered an investment loss of about 50 billion Singapore dollars (33 billion US) last year, sources told Dow Jones Newswires on Tuesday.

In late 2007 and early last year GIC injected billions of dollars into Swiss bank UBS as well as US banking giant Citigroup, both of which suffered massive losses from US subprime, or higher-risk, mortgage investments.

Subprime troubles later evolved into the worldwide financial slowdown.

"The loss on the investment portfolio last year is estimated at around 45 billion to 50 billion," one of two people familiar with the GIC situation told Dow Jones.

"But, GIC has no thoughts to sell down any of its major investments. They'll wait until they recover."

UBS this month posted an annual loss of 17 billion US dollars, the largest in Swiss corporate history, and announced 2,000 new job cuts.

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Treat Customers Fairly, FSA Warns Print E-mail

BBC – 10 February 2009

Insurance companies have been told that any cuts to the value of with-profits funds must be fair to their savers.

The warning has come from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), in its Financial Risk Outlook.

It says insurers will come under pressure from the recession, leading to falling policy sales and lower profits.

It also warns that firms which have sold annuities must make sure they have "sufficient reserves and capital" to cope with people living longer.

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