SINGAPORE: Dealmakers, fund managers and CEOs are flocking to Singapore for a high-profile conference series this month as the city-state is strengthening its credentials as a major global financial center.

While COVID curbs continue to hinder large in-person gatherings in Hong Kong’s rival financial center, Singapore has mostly returned to pre-pandemic life with loose indoor mask rules last month.

Business is booming: hotel room rates are at the level of a decade, conference rooms have been booked up for weeks, and restaurants are full.

“We’ve had two fun years where we’ve been locked up and isolated from our peers, so in-person conferences feel like a small step back to normal and a big step back in humanity,” Rachel Lau, managing partner at the based company. in Southeast Asia investment company RHL Ventures.

The first of these events starting on Monday is SuperReturn Asia, an annual conference of the private equity and venture capital industry that is held for the first time in Singapore instead of Hong Kong as usual.

Around 1,000 executives from over 40 countries are expected to attend in four days, a record number for the event and comparing to around 800 in 2019. Delegates are paying up to £ 4,000 ($ 4,600) to attend.

“We have been planning the event for many months now,” said Dorothy Kelso, Global Head of SuperReturn, adding that the demand for the opportunity to physically meet in Asia was high in the international community.

Other conferences in Singapore this month include the Milken Institute Asia Summit run by US billionaire Michael Milken’s think tank, the Forbes Global CEO conference, and Token2049, a crypto event that will also take place in the city for the first time.

The conferences, which offer networking opportunities with Indian and Chinese investors, as well as sovereign wealth funds, will be attended by executives from investment giants such as Carlyle Group, PIMCO and Franklin Templeton.

Indian and Southeast Asian startups and representatives of the OKX and FTX cryptocurrency exchanges will also participate.

Singapore’s resumption of congressional activity places it on a similar basis to that of New York, where large business gatherings have resumed. London has also largely returned to pre-pandemic levels of face-to-face meetings in recent months, although smaller-scale events are more common than larger multi-day conferences.


Singapore is also set to see a surge in tourism with the resumption of the F1 night race in late September after a two-year hiatus. Other major tourist draws organized include the Maroon 5 and Guns N ‘Roses concerts in November.

“Singapore is roaring back,” said Curtis Chin, former US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank and Asia Fellow at the Milken Institute.

Singapore has long been locked in stiff competition with Hong Kong to be regarded as Asia’s leading financial center with both cities keen to attract global banks, as well as wealth and wealth managers.

But Hong Kong’s relentless COVID slowdown has affected its economy and position as a financial center. It is one of the few places in the world that still require quarantine for arriving travelers.

Its restrictions have only increased the exodus of financial and entrepreneurial talent in recent years as Beijing began to exert greater control over the Hong Kong government and curtail freedoms, which worked in Singapore’s favor.

“With Hong Kong increasingly linked to mainland China both economically and politically, Singapore is able to further differentiate itself as a controller of its own destiny and as a hub for major international events,” Chin said.

Wealthy families, mostly Chinese, and super-wealthy individuals have set up hundreds of so-called “family offices,” drawing on Singapore’s generous tax incentives and stable political system.

Singapore authorities have also just unveiled new work visa rules to attract executives earning at least S $ 30,000 ($ 21,300) a month, hoping to attract global “rain makers”.

($ 1 = 1.4083 Singapore dollars)