Poultry farmer Ho Seng Choon, 90, is still the prince of quails; “We should be billionaires,” said the younger Mr Ho. “But while dad is an excellent and passionate farmer, he has never been a good businessman.”

Poultry farmer, 90, is still the prince of quails

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He has tried his hand at goat, turtle and crocodile farming – but at the age of 90 he is now rearing quails with his son. -ST
Melody Zaccheus
Sat, Mar 16, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – He has tried his hand at goat, turtle and crocodile farming – but at the age of 90 he is now rearing quails with his son.

Meet Mr Ho Seng Choon, a poultry farmer credited with modernising farming techniques in Singapore over six decades.

Together with son William Ho, 48, he runs Lian Wah Hang, one of two quail farms here. It provides Singapore with 11 million quail eggs every year.

These come from their brood of 130,000 quails and are sold at supermarkets or served at restaurants such as Crystal Jade.

But this could be the “last frontier” for their 2.7ha farm in Lim Chu Kang, said the younger Mr Ho. “Just two years remain on our tenancy and we cannot expand our business on such terms. We are worried about our future.”

The older Mr Ho, who features in the National Heritage Board’s Trading Stories exhibition, has been credited with introducing the battery system for livestock in the 1950s. Born in China’s Fujian province, Mr Ho came to Singapore in 1929. His father ran a provision shop but business was disrupted by World War II.

Mr Ho saw poultry farming’s potential as the population grew, so he sold his dad’s shop and headed to Japan and the Netherlands to pick up livestock techniques.

“Farming techniques in Japan were very modern compared to Singapore where chickens would roam freely and farmhands would have to run around with their baskets in search of eggs,” said Mr Ho. He has published a series of journals on poultry farming and in 1963, he led a rally fighting for a three-cent tax on imported chicken eggs to benefit local farmers.

Two years later, he organised a farming exhibition at Kallang Airport and played host to then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

“We should be billionaires,” said the younger Mr Ho. “But while dad is an excellent and passionate farmer, he has never been a good businessman.” Read more of this post

Private Equity’s $36 Billion Retail Bet Not Going So Well

Private Equity’s $36 Billion Retail Bet Not Going So Well

In the years before the recession, private-equity firms put so much faith in the future of U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers that they spent $36 billion on them.

That hasn’t worked out so well, especially for the era’s biggest spender, Bain Capital LLC. The firm started by Mitt Romney inked four deals valued at $17 billion from 2004 to 2007 and still owns all of the purchases. The largest of the bunch was Toys “R” Us Inc., which posted a drop in sales during the holidays, followed by Chief Executive Officer Gerald Storch stepping down.

The private-equity model — load up an acquisition with debt, cut costs and take it public — hasn’t gone according to the usual script with most of Bain’s retail acquisitions. That’s largely because the firm, which has $67 billion in assets under management, doubled down on specialty retailers just as they were about to be pummeled by the likes of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)

“There isn’t anything special about specialty anymore,” said Leon Nicholas, an analyst for Kantar Retail in Boston. Their advantages on product assortment, expertise and price have disappeared, he said. Read more of this post

China firms desert US stock markets amid scrutiny by US regulators and short-sellers

China firms desert US stock markets

More than two dozen US-listed Chinese companies have retreated from the US stock market in the past 15 months, amid scrutiny by US regulators and short-sellers. -China Daily/ANN
Michael Barris

Sat, Mar 16, 2013
China Daily/Asia News Network

NEW YORK – When 7 Days Group Holdings Ltd announced in September that it had received a buyout proposal to be taken private, the Chinese budget hotel operator’s US-listed shares soared to a four-month high.

Prior to the announcement, the shares, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, had tumbled 23 per cent in 12 months, amid investor worries over corporate governance that hurt valuations of Chinese companies.

Last week, 7 Days became the latest US-traded Chinese company to go dark, after a group that included Washington-based private equity firm Carlyle Group LP and the company’s co-chairmen sweetened its offer to $688 million (S$854.7 million).

More than two dozen US-listed Chinese companies have retreated from the US stock market in the past 15 months, amid scrutiny by US regulators and short-sellers and shrinking advantages from US listings. Read more of this post

Why some think China is approaching a political tipping point

The old regime and the revolution

Why some think China is approaching a political tipping point

Mar 16th 2013 |From the print edition

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FOR some of China’s more than 500m internet users the big news story of the week has not been the long-scheduled one that their country has a new president, Xi Jinping, who already has more important jobs running the Communist Party and chairing its military commission. Rather it was the unscheduled, unwelcome and unexplained arrival down a river into Shanghai of the putrescent carcasses of thousands of dead pigs, apparently dumped there by farmers upstream. The latest in an endless series of public-health, pollution and corruption scandals, it is hard to think of a more potent (and disgusting) symbol of the view, common among internet users, that, for all its astonishing economic advance, there is something rotten in the state of China, and that change will have to come.

Many think it will. According to Andrew Nathan, an American scholar, “the consensus is stronger than at any time since the 1989 Tiananmen crisis that the resilience of the authoritarian regime in…China is approaching its limits.” Mr Nathan, who a decade ago coined the term “authoritarian resilience” to describe the Chinese Communist Party’s ability to adapt and survive, was contributing, in the Journal of Democracy, an American academic quarterly, to a collection of essays with the titillating title: “China at the tipping point?” Read more of this post

How cricket has lost its working class tradition; The game is better for having its working-class heroes

Class and cricket

A lower-order collapse

Mar 12th 2013, 19:54 by B.R.

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IT USED to be said that when England needed a fast bowler, all it had to do was whistle down a Nottinghamshire coal mine. Harold Larwood (pictured), the most fearsome bowler of his generation, was destined for a life in the pits before he was spotted while playing for his village team and offered a contract by Nottinghamshire in 1923. Nuncargate, the tiny mining village in which he was born, unearthed four further England cricketers, including Bill Voce, who shared the new ball with Larwood during the 1932-33 bodyline tour of Australia.

England’s great batsmen, too, often came from humble beginnings. Jack Hobbs, one of the country’s most revered players, grew up in poverty in Cambridge. Herbert Sutcliffe’s father was a pub landlord in Yorkshire. Indeed, from Fred Trueman, the first bowler to take 300 Test wickets, whose father spent time in the coal mines, to Ian Botham and Freddie Flintoff, working-class heroes have always bestrode the game.

This is not to say that English cricket has not been subject to class division. On the contrary, it is enshrined in its history. The first recorded games, in the 17th and 18th centuries, were often between teams playing under the patronage of the landed gentry, such as the Second Duke of Richmond, who employed local farm hands in fixtures convened for toffs to bet on. Until 1962, England’s first-class cricketers were formally divided into two categories, gentlemen and players—the nobs who could afford to play cricket as amateurs, versus working-class professionals who needed to be paid. At Lord’s, the home of the game, teammates entered the field through separate gates dependent on this distinction. There was even an annual fixture between the two which was, for a while, the highlight of the domestic season (and in which the professionals usually prevailed). It was not until 1952 that a non-gentleman, Len Hutton, captained the Test side.

Class is even enshrined in the game’s aesthetic. Some shots—particularly front foot drives—are to this day considered more elegant, to be purred over by purists. This may be because they are also associated with the upper classes. In “More Tales from a Long Room”, a satire of the game, Peter Tinniswood relates the story of an aristocrat who undertakes “a missionary crusade to the dourlands of the north to preach to the working classes his fervent belief that the cover drive, the late cut and the wristy leg glance were not the sole province of the upper classes.” In contrast, brutal, clubbing back foot shots, such as pulls and cuts, were considered professionals’ shots, born of those who cared little about art and much about efficacy.

Yet if there was once a class battle in cricket, it is on the verge of being conceded. Today, fewer working-class players reach the top of the English game than probably at any time in the sport’s history. If one takes a very broad measure of class—whether a player attended a state or private school—the majority of England’s Test cricketers since the second world war could be said to have come from relatively modest backgrounds (see chart). In 1993, nine of the starting XI who played in the first Test against Australia had been to a state school. By the 2009 series, only half did (one, Monty Panesar, attended both types). In the last Test match England played, against New Zealand last week, that proportion had gone down to a third. Read more of this post

China’s ‘new farmer:’ an investor, manager and & decision maker; mass exodus from the countryside has left China asking, “Who will till the farmlands and feed 1.4 billion Chinese people?”

China’s ‘new farmer:’ an investor, manager and & decision maker

  • Xinhua

2013-03-15

China is going to great lengths to foster a “new type” of professional farmer to inhabit the empty farmhouses across its vast rural areas and entice more migrant workers to return home to till fields and feed the world’s largest population.

If it succeeds, China will solve a major problem that cropped up after its urbanization process resulted in a population split 50:50 between rural and urban areas. Decades ago, nine in 10 people lived in rural areas, where their lives were not as good as that of their urban peers.

As large numbers of farmers, especially young farmers, have flocked to cities and towns, they have left the countryside largely inhabited by the elderly, women and children.

This mass exodus from the countryside has left China asking, “Who will till the farmlands and feed 1.4 billion Chinese people?” Read more of this post

Tinkering key to innovation

Tinkering key to innovation

Created: 2013-3-16

Author:Wang Yong

DESPITE the global success of Apple iPhones, the US suffers a stasis in technological innovation – at least in the eye of American journalist Alec Foege, author of “The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great.” While Thomas Edison (1847-1931) tinkered with projects in an unstructured way, the author says that a modern-day American would more often than not be enslaved by standardized test scores that leach creativity. American children today are also less creative, observes the author, who believes that many busy parents deprive their children of any opportunities for unstructured play – the setting where taking old things apart and creating new things used to be part of growing up. Partly because of this rigid education that suppresses the spirit and skills of tinkering, the US is no longer the biggest producer of engineers and scientists. As the author points out, it has fallen behind many other countries in filing new patents. “True tinkering is all about risk and unusual behavior. The far-flung fanaticism that world-class tinkering requires rarely thrives in an institutional setting,” says the author. Because the education system cannot be overhauled any time soon – most universities and colleges in America still survive and will continue to survive on mass-producing standard graduates and diplomas – one way to improve the nation’s creative spirit and capacity is for the government and corporations to fund pure experiments.  Read more of this post

Crisis bodes grim for Dutch housing market

Crisis bodes grim for Dutch housing market

by Christien van den Brink

English.news.cn   2013-03-15 21:36:28

THE HAGUE, Mar. 15 (Xinhua) — The happily married young couple Petra and Bert live in a suburban area of the fourth biggest city of the Netherlands, Utrecht.

Bert has just signed a long term contract at the ministry of Infrastructure, while Petra holds a part time job. They would be in the perfect position to buy their dream house, and yet, they rent it.

“Jobwise, it is really difficult to predict where we will be in 3, 4 years. We could be sent to other regions by our employers. Or we could even lose our job. This makes it hard to chose a location for our future house. We don’t want to commit to something until we are more financially stable,” Petra said.

Petra and Bert are not the only ones who have opted for renting in the Netherlands. According to figures published by CBS on Friday, 2.9 million dwellings of the 7.1 million households are rented apartments and houses.

Due to a growing incertainty at the job market, flexibility has become the main argument for renting. Renting offers the ability to pick up and leave if you have to take a job in an other region of the Netherlands. Read more of this post

The man who once saved New York City from bankruptcy explains why Detroit may go under; “We couldn’t do this today,” says Felix Rohatyn. “The various stakeholders are no longer around the same table.”

The man who once saved New York City from bankruptcy explains why Detroit may go under

By Tim Fernholz — 10 hours ago

The US city of Detroit is in deep financial trouble. Years of fiscal mismanagement and a shrinking population have left it with $14 billion in debt and a $300-million deficit last year, the auto capital of the country is headed toward bankruptcy. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder just appointed Kevyn Orr, a Washington bankruptcy attorney, to be the city’s “emergency manager,” a role with the power to implement budget measures without the consent of local officials.

Orr led the 2010 restructuring of Chrysler, the US automaker based in Detroit, during the the American government’s rescue of the auto industry. But his current challenge is what he calls “the Olympics of restructuring.” It might very well be: If the city doesn’t get back on its feet soon, it will become the largest municipal default in US history.

Felix Rohatyn faced similar problems in 1975, when he chaired a commission that extricated New York City from its financial crisis, a similar $14 billion debt load and an astounding $2.2-billion operating deficit (pdf). Rohatyn and a deputy were referred to as the “Batman and Robin of New York.” The legendary Lazard bankertalked to Quartz about his worries that the same tools he used might not be available in Detroit.

“We couldn’t do this today,” says Rohatyn. “The various stakeholders are no longer around the same table.” Read more of this post

Craig Winkler on a winner at NZ cloud-accounting software Xero which cracks the billion dollar mark in market cap

Winkler on a winner at Xero

March 16, 2013

Brian Robins

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Craig Winkler Photo: James Davies

II is more than most of us can expect to make in a lifetime, but entrepreneur Craig Winkler’s worth has risen a stunning $20 million just over the past week alone. Mr Winkler made his first $100 million from accounting software company MYOB and then put part of his gains into Xero, a start-up New Zealand rival, when he sold. With an internet cloud-based product, it claims to have a lower cost offering than its competitors. Xero listed on the stock exchange in October. Since then its share price has nearly doubled, surging 7 per cent on Friday to hit a record $8.60, before closing up 49¢ at $8.48. It first traded on the ASX around $4.50. It listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in 2007. The rally in Xero’s share price has more than doubled Mr Winkler’s worth, even though the company is yet to make a dollar. He holds 16 million Xero shares after selling 2.5 million shares at $NZ6 in December, only to watch the share price surge. Part of the reason for the rally in recent weeks has been a series of product promotions in Australia, coupled with optimism about the incorporation of new product features.

But with Xero’s market valuation topping $1 billion on Friday, it seems investors are pricing in success not just in Australia, but in the US market as well, where it has established a presence. Last month Xero said monthly revenue was running at $NZ4 million ($3.2 million), up from December quarter revenue of $NZ10 million, with revenue in the year to March to double from the $NZ19 million booked last year. Xero is challenging market incumbents MYOB and Reckon in the Australian market. Since selling out of MYOB, Mr Winkler has spent most of his time working in the not-for-profit sector.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Founder Anji Reddy Dies; Considered as a pioneer of reverse engineering, Dr Reddy made significant contributions in making pharmaceutical products globally competitive and also affordable to the common man

March 15, 2013, 12:50 p.m. ET

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Founder Anji Reddy Dies

By DHANYA ANN THOPPIL

BANGALORE–K. Anji Reddy, the founder and chairman of drug maker Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., 500124.BY +0.29% died Friday in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. Mr. Reddy was ailing for some time, the company said in a statement, but didn’t give details. Mr. Reddy founded Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in 1984. The Hyderabad-based company, which is listed in India and on the New York Stock Exchange, is now one of India’s largest drug makers.

Founder chairman of Dr Reddy Laboratories Anji Reddy dead

Indo-Asian News Service | Updated: March 15, 2013 21:20 IST

HyderabadKallam Anji Reddy, the founder chairman of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, died today at a hospital in Hyderabad following brief illness. He was 73. He is survived by wife Samrajyam, daughter Anuradha and son K Satish Reddy, who is managing director and COO of the pharma giant. One of the most well-known faces of Indian pharma industry, Dr Reddy was suffering from lung disorder for last few months and was admitted to a private hospital 10 days ago. The technocrat-turned-entrepreneur, who started Reddy’s Laboratories with a meagre outlay of Rs. 25 lakh in early 1980s, transformed it into $1.6 billion global entity. Considered as a pioneer of reverse engineering, Dr Reddy made significant contributions in making pharmaceutical products globally competitive and also affordable to the common man. Read more of this post

China’s Top E-Commerce Sites Saw 600% Growth in Mobile Shopping Last Year; An average of 220,000 products were sold every hour through mobile devices in 2012 on Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao

China’s Top E-Commerce Sites Saw 600% Growth in Mobile Shopping Last Year

Mar 15, 2013 at 22:18 PM by Steven Millward, in BusinessE-commerceMobile

We know that China’s netizens love shopping online – and collectively spend about $40,000 per second on local e-commerce sites – but most of that has been happening on desktop computers and laptops. Finally that’s changing. China’s top online stores, Tmall andTaobao, have revealed that purchases made via mobile devices soared 600 percent last year on the two sites. Alibaba, the company that runs those two e-stores, says that the number of unique visitors to Taobao last year on its apps or on any mobile browser reached 300 million last year. The company’s blog says that, of those mobile visitors, 57 million (19 percent) made purchases on their phones. While that’s a sizable shift to m-commerce, mobile purchases still made up just 6.87 percent of all Taobao transactions in 2012. At least that’s way up from a mere 1.77 percent in 2011.

Indeed, as we noted previously in iResearch data for 2012 Q2, Taobao and Tmall lead the way in mobile commerce in China, punching above their general market share by accounting for 75.6 percent of mobile e-shopping buys. A few other sites also perform better than average, such as fashion e-tailers Vancl and MaiBaoBao. But quite a number of others are underrepresented on mobile, such as Amazon China. “The speed of mobile adoption has been much faster than we thought it would be,” says Alibaba’s general manager for the mobile business unit, Alex Qiu. With booming smartphone adoption in China – now accounting for 73 percent of all phones sold – there’s still a lot of market share to be won and lost in the transition to greater m-commerce. Read more of this post

Former Thai deputy premier Supachai Panitchpakdi warned that there were signs of a “bubble” in the Thai economy, with massive fund inflows heading mostly to the property sector.

Supachai sees signs of a bubble

March 16, 2013 1:00 am

Unctad chief urges officials to monitor property prices and bank lending

Former deputy premier Supachai Panitchpakdi warned yesterday that there were signs of a “bubble” in the Thai economy, with massive fund inflows heading mostly to the property sector.

Supachai, secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), expressed concern over a bubble in Thailand’s property sector, which he said could expand and create problems for the economy in the future. 

He called on the responsible agencies to pay attention to property prices, such as for condominiums, and to closely monitor bank lending. Expressing concern over overheated lending by banks, he said asset prices in some sectors are likely to exceed reasonable levels. Read more of this post

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng: The wonton vs sushi story; So what is the right business model for small businesses in the age of massive social and technological change?

Saturday March 16, 2013

The wonton vs sushi story

Think Asian by ANDREW SHENG

MY friends know that I am a noodle foodie. Everywhere I go throughout Asia, I try the noodles, from laksa in Penang, pad thai in Bangkok, beefpho in Hanoi to mohinga in Yangon; each bowl showcases the culture and flavour of the place, through the different texture, spices, and taste. Somehow, I remember a place by the quality of its noodles.

There is nothing quite like the great wonton and noodle shops in Hong Kong. They are not fancy places, but have been in the same location for ages, and have become beloved local institutions with lifetime customers. In the past few months. several historic Hong Kong noodle shops and cafes have closed from rising rents. The closure of the 42-year-old Lei Yuen Congee Noodles in Causeway Bay this January made the South China Morning Post. Hundreds of tourists and residents flocked to the shop in its last days, waiting in hour-long queues at lunch time for their last chance to eat there.

Rising rent in Hong Kong is nothing new. Hong Kong competes with Tokyo as one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets. Yet Tokyo is full of small ramen and sushi shops that have been around for decades brought to international attention recently by the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi about a dedicated Michelin star sushi shop in the Tokyo subway. Tokyo sushi shops also have to pay the high rent demanded by landlords, but perhaps their landlords realise that Japanese culture is poorer if there is no local sushi and ramen shop around. Read more of this post

Information innovator

Saturday March 16, 2013

Information innovator

By JENNIFER LO

INFORMATION technology (IT) is all about innovation. Vish Iyer can’t agree more.

Mobility, social media and big data are all hot-button topics. Cloud computing frees up people from the desk, so an IT system can be managed even on the road. “For a bank, it could be payment via Internet banking or mobile phone,” says the high-flying corporate executive.

“For an insurance company, it could mean enabling an agent to get quotations and conduct transactions on his or her mobile.” For an airline, pilots no longer carry huge bags with heavy operating manuals. “We put that on an iPad,” he adds.

Few would believe the president for Asia Pacific at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has neither training in IT nor a background in engineering. He learns by doing.

Born and raised in Kolkata around the time when India’s first computer arrived, Iyer graduated from St Xavier’s College, one of the city’s best-known educational institutions with a major in taxation and economics.

Now the head of the largest service provider in the Asia-Pacific region based in Singapore, he manages 10,000 employees in 13 countries including Australia, Japan, China and South Korea.

The 45-year-old Indian company, whose clients include Microsoft andING Group, is the provider of IT services and business solutions, with a turnover exceeding US$12bil and market capitalisation of US$45bil on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

It is part of the Tata group, India’s largest conglomerate in seven sectors including communications, engineering and energy, with a revenue of more than US$100bil in the fiscal year 2011-12. Read more of this post

Money Advice for People in Boom-or-Bust Fields; Jay Reynolds borrowed heavily to buy the company in 1980. He then struggled for nearly two decades as demand suffered until the business finally revived

March 8, 2013

Money Advice for People in Boom-or-Bust Fields

By PAUL SULLIVAN

09wealth-articleLarge

Jay Reynolds, president and chief executive of Rod Ric Drilling in Midland, Tex., borrowed heavily to buy the company in 1980. He then struggled for nearly two decades as demand suffered until the business finally revived. 

MORE financial advisers are focusing on a single clientele, say, doctors or athletes. That would seem to make sense, since concentrating on a single group of people gives advisers greater insight into the needs of those people. And if the advisers do a good job, they will get that client’s colleagues as clients.

Advisers can, of course, organize their practices in other ways. Many focus on a dollar amount. They promise to give good advice to any client with more than $1 million, $5 million or more, regardless of where that money came from. By taking this tack, they are also eliminating the need to have more, less wealthy clients.

And some advisers organize a practice around a life event, like retirement or divorce. But what does a divorced woman with three young children and a deadbeat former husband have in common with Elaine Wynn, who received nearly $1 billion when she divorced Steve Wynn, the casino mogul?

Still, is managing money for a group of lawyers, say, any different from managing money for another high earner? A dollar is a dollar, after all. Or is it just a way for advisers to market themselves? Read more of this post

What Should Business Schools Teach Managers?

What Should Business Schools Teach Managers?

Martin Parker University of Leicester

Gordon Pearson Keele University

Spring 2013
Business and Society Review, Vol. 118, Issue 1, pp. 1-22, 2013 

Abstract: 
This article is the fourth dialogue in a series in which two characters, a pro‐business experienced manager and a critical management academic idealist, debate contemporary management. In this dialogue, the discussion concerns the curriculum of business and management courses. Though as usual there is little agreement between the two participants, the discussion clearly shows just how difficult it will be to change business education without also changing the market position of business schools. Other topics concern the sort of economic assumptions embedded in much of the curriculum, and the relationship between practical skills and political descriptions of capitalism.

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