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Thread: F1 in Singapore

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    Default F1 in Singapore

    Published March 30, 2007

    HPL jumps to all-time high on talk of sealing F1 deal

    By TETTYANA JASLI


    RAMPANT speculation that Ong Beng Seng, a major shareholder in Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), has sealed the deal which will see Singapore host a leg of the popular Formula One series pushed the company's shares up 38 cents to an all-time high of $5.20 a share yesterday.

    HPL saw more than than 3.32 million shares change hands. Since the start of the month, HPL shares have risen 36.5 per cent, from $3.30 to $5.20. Less than a year ago, HPL shares were being traded at $1.74, while back in 2003 the share price hit a low of 78 cents.

    Mr Ong, the maverick property tycoon who is HPL's controlling shareholder, has been the central figure behind the bid for Singapore's first Formula One Grand Prix car race.

    'I heard the deal has been inked. Otherwise, why would F1 send Mark Webber to Singapore on Saturday to test the route,' said a dealer.

    Australian Mark Webber, one of the drivers in F1's Red Bull racing team, is due in Singapore tomorrow to test the proposed route.

    The general mood has been bullish, with an announcement that Singapore will host an F1 race seen as imminent. Two weeks ago, when F1 president and CEO Bernie Ecclestone was in town to meet Mr Ong and government officials, HPL stock rose 32 cents to $4.52.

    Separately, HPL subsidiary HPL Properties (West) Ltd has subscribed for an additional 3.6 million shares in the share capital of 808 Holdings Pte Ltd, an associated company of HPL, for an aggregate subscription price of approximately $11 million.

    808 Holdings' other two shareholders - Medo Investment Pte Ltd, an indirect subsidiary of Genting International, and CapitaLand (UK) Pte Ltd - have also subscribed for additional ordinary shares in the share capital of 808 Holdings. All three shareholders - HPL Properties (West) Pte Ltd, Medo Investment and CapitaLand (UK) - have maintained their respective interests of 33.3 per cent.

    Together with CapitaLand UK, HPL and Genting International earlier said they will be jointly developing a property in the UK.

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    Default F1 driver impressed by proposed S'pore circuit

    Mar 31, 2007
    F1 driver impressed by proposed S'pore circuit

    MARK Webber is a Formula One driver usually accustomed to hitting speeds of over 250km/h in his Red Bull RB3 race car.
    But on Saturday, the Australian drove around Singapore's proposed F1 street circuit in a Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet and kept well below 100 km/h.

    Webber, who is here en route to next week's F1 race in Sepang, stopped at traffic lights, obeyed the speed limit, and did not try any outrageous overtaking stunts.

    It was a leisurely Saturday morning ride for the 30-year-old, as he went round the proposed 4.8km route in the Marina and Esplanade area drawn by German designer Hermann Tilke.

    Organisers said the change of car - a Porsche 911 GT3 was chosen initially - was due to Renault being the Red Bull team's engine partner.

    More for publicity, the 30-year-old's test drive is not expected to have any impact on the design of the circuit or the decision to stage an F1 race here.

    However, there was widespread media attention as 20-odd photographers and journalists scampered to get a slice of the action.

    Ditto for tourists and staff at Swissotel the Stamford, where the drive commenced.

    Said Webber: 'It's a hardcore street circuit, much like Adelaide in the 90s.'

    'You've got some curves, similar to Monaco's Casino Square and the Swimming Pool, with more scope for overtaking.'

    'There's lots of greenery too, making it very picturesque, just like Melbourne's Albert Park, which is set around a lake,' he added.

    Monte Carlo and Albert Park are famous street circuits on the F1 calendar.

    But Webber feels having the proposed night race - a first for F1 - would set Singapore apart as the most unique event in the calendar.

    It would also boost television audiences in Europe and America due to the time difference.

    He said: 'This would be the signature event of the country, and fuel massive global interest.'

    Earlier this month, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was here for discussions for tycoon Ong Beng Seng. A deal could be concluded as early as next week.

    On Friday, Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran told reporters: 'The negotiations ... are going well. How soon, I can't say as of now, but it would be sooner rather than later.'

    On Saturday, Webber gave the thumbs up to the planned circuit, but said a lot of work is needed.

    He said: 'It'll take three weeks to set up the logistics, a week to dismantle. The city has to learn to embrace the event. People will have to be patient.'

    Webber noted that the roads, especially those behind Suntec City, need to be smoothened, ideally three months before raceday, to ensure safety.

    And what about a night race?

    He added: 'F1 cars have no headlights. Thus, the lighting has to simulate daytime conditions.'

    'If it rains, it could get more tricky. The glare of the lights, reflection and the spray off cars need to be considered.'

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    Default F1 race - the devil is in the detail

    Published April 4, 2007

    COMMENTARY

    F1 race - the devil is in the detail

    By SAMUEL EE


    YOU'VE heard so much talk about a Formula One race in Singapore next year that you might think it's a done deal. Except there hasn't been a formal announcement. So why is it taking so long?

    Property tycoon Ong Beng Seng has been tipped as front-runner in the race to get the nod from Formula One Management (FOM) to hold the island's first F1 race. But so far the low-profile hotelier has not said a word.

    The other person linked to the F1 bid, Arthur Tay of SUTL Group, developer of the luxury marina at Sentosa Cove, has also stayed silent publicly, though some people swear he has secured the commercial rights.

    The only public announcement so far has been to the contrary. Mr Ong's listed vehicle HPL has categorically said it is not involved in the F1 deal.

    Yet there is every reason to believe a deal is almost in the bag and that it is Mr Ong, who is close to FOM supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who will clinch it.

    Even though HPL is not involved, this does not mean Mr Ong has bowed out. He is known to have stakes in many private companies and may be steering one of them towards the chequered flag.

    So back to the official announcement and why it is stuck in the pits. No one is willing to come out and admit it, but the reason is probably money. F1 is notorious for not being a money-spinner for any party involved, except Mr Ecclestone.

    The sanction fee - the amount paid for the right to stage a race - is said to be about US$35 million payable upfront. Then there is the actual cost of staging the race itself - possibly another US$35 million - plus other terms and conditions, like the control of TV rights by Mr Ecclestone.

    All these can leave an organiser with a serious financial headache. Look no farther than Melbourne or Sepang, both of which have lost millions of dollars staging F1 races. But both agree that the payback has to be measured in less quantifiable terms, like the enhanced image of the country and its promotion internationally as a tourist destination.

    Cost factor

    These things, too, are the reasons for Singapore's high-revving attempt to land a slot on the F1 calendar. The government has accepted that a race is not a money-making proposition, so it has promised to underwrite half of the cost.

    But for a savvy businessman like Mr Ong, half of the cost could also mean half of the loss - something he would be loathe to bear.

    And Mr Ecclestone is not the only one who drives a hard bargain. Government agencies here are known to be hard-nosed and calculative.

    So when it comes to turning a profit, Mr Ong could be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    On the other hand, with so many government ministers hinting at an impending deal, there is probably no backing out now. So it's not so much whether a race will happen but how.

    The devil is likely to be in the detail, not just all the fine print in a commercial agreement but how an F1 novice like Singapore is going to get all the mechanics and logistics right.

    It is challenging enough to run a race on a purpose-built track like Sepang, but a Singapore race would be on a street circuit, with so many seating and safety issues that one can only imagine the complexities involved.

    The only sure thing now is that a Singapore F1 race will happen when it happens.

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    Default Permanent F1 track good but not vital: Jackie Stewart

    Published April 5, 2007

    Permanent F1 track good but not vital: Jackie Stewart

    By JANICE HENG


    (SINGAPORE) Singapore's proposed permanent race track is a good idea but not necessary, Formula One racing legend Jackie Stewart said yesterday.

    A permanent track would be good because motorsports infrastructure could be built up around it, he said. For example, driver education and industry product launches could be tied to it.

    'But I don't think that's a necessity,' he said. 'I think there is a charm, and a rarity, in having a street race.' Monaco is now the only major venue where F1 street races are held.

    'You've got to have a little variety,' Mr Stewart told reporters yesterday after his visit to the Dyslexia Centre of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS).

    On Singapore's F1 bid, he said: 'Singapore, I think, would be a good home for Formula One racing.' Singapore has a 'very, very well-developed infrastructure'.

    Singapore would not only be a good host, it would 'gain handsomely' as well, Mr Stewart said, citing the large television audience for F1 races and the influx of tourists that F1 races attract.

    'An excuse to come to Singapore would be the Grand Prix,' he said. The resulting tourist expenditure would benefit sectors such as hotels, and food and beverage.

    Mr Stewart was diagnosed with dyslexia - a reading disability caused by a defect in the way the brain processes graphic symbols - at the age of 41. Dyslexia affects up to 10 per cent of people. And Mr Stewart commended Singapore for the way it handles the problem.

    'You could lead the world in this,' he told DAS management. He also gave a speech to parents and students at the centre. His visit to Singapore was made possible by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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    Default DMG highlights stocks that may benefit from hosting F1

    Published April 3, 2007

    DMG highlights stocks that may benefit from hosting F1

    Hospitality, retail, nightspots, construction sectors will gain

    By JANICE HENG


    WHILE speculation continues over Singapore's bid to host a Formula One (F1) motor race, analysts have begun looking at the implications. In a report released yesterday, the stockbroking firm DMG and Partners Securities highlighted stocks in sectors which they think will benefit - hospitality, retail, nightspots, accessories and gifts, construction and logistics, and transport.

    DMG noted that hotel room rates 'are known to double and even triple in host cities during the event'. One expected beneficiary is Singapore Land, which owns an effective 26.5 per cent in three hotels along the proposed race route: the Pan Pacific, the Oriental Hotel and the Marina Mandarin.

    Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL) and Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) can offer lodging along the Orchard Road tourist belt, in the HPL-owned Hilton and Four Seasons hotels, and OUE's Meritus Mandarin.

    Hotels on the city periphery - such as United Overseas Land's Hotel Plaza and Park Royal Hotel - will also benefit, while Koh Brothers' Changi Hotel and Oxford Hotel will welcome the budget-conscious.

    Real estate investment trusts (Reits) that could gain include CDL Hospitality Trust, Ascott Residence Trust and Ascott Group. Retail landlords, 'particularly those with turnover rent lease structures', may also gain from higher retail spending, said DMG, which named Suntec Reit, MM Prime Reit and CapitaMall Trust.

    The expected boost in spending will 'tilt towards the branded retailers', DMG thinks. These include FJ Benjamin, which provides agency services for labels including Gap, Banana Republic, Guess, and La Senza, and also promotes in-house brand Raoul.

    Robinsons and Isetan are also expected to benefit, while Wing Tai will cater to the Asian crowd with a portfolio that includes Top Shop, Top Man, Dorothy Perkins, G2000, U2, Nike Women and Fox Fashion.

    FJ Benjamin is also tipped to gain from nightspot patronage, as it holds a 33 per cent stake in St James Power Station. DMG notes that LifeBrandz, which has 11 clubs and bars including the Ministry of Sound, is a 'strong competitor'.

    Retailers of a more specialised sort are Stamford Tyres and YHI. The motoring aftermarket accessories that they distribute are 'becoming fashion statements', said DMG.

    Roads on the circuit will require resurfacing and repairs, which may benefit road maintenance company OKP. Aluminium extrusion company AEI Corporation may also get to provide F1-related signage and track railings.

    On the logistics side, event organiser Cityneon may see increased demand for hospitality tents and other forms of temporary infrastructure. Marketing and communications firm Communication Design International may also gain.

    While noting that takings for taxi drivers will increase, DMG adds that the spillover effect for fleet owners and operators will be 'limited to the sharing of booking fees'. Singapore Airlines is a clearer winner. 'Improvement in the passenger load factor will flow directly down to SIA's bottom line,' said DMG.

    Profit aside, a successful F1 race will improve Singapore's international branding, said DMG. Hotelier Ong Beng Seng - whose Hotel Properties Limited announced its non-involvement last Friday - and SUTL Group's managing director Arthur Tay are the two known parties vying for F1 hosting rights. And F1 may not be Singapore's only racing event, if plans to build a permanent race track see fruition. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports is reportedly considering a permanent track at Changi.

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    Default Motor Racing: Singapore motorsports receives healthy boost

    Motor Racing: Singapore motorsports receives healthy boost

    By Daniel Tan, channelnewsasia.com | Posted: 04 April 2007 1914 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The hosting of a Formula One leg right here in Singapore, will give local motorsports a healthy boost.

    According to industry experts, the extended media coverage, should the race be extended to Singapore, would bring about extensive benefits to the country.

    Speaking at the MotorsportsAsia Forum in Singapore, veteran F1 Commentator Steve Slater said," Positioning itself as a style capital, as a really fantastic avant garde place to come - that's going to be a legacy that F1 coming to Singapore can give."

    Slater also said that Singapore would be a "fantastic place to set up a technology centre, to set up a regional head office" for any F1 team wanting to develop their activities throughout Asia.

    The forum which brought together experts in the racing fraternity from around the Asia Pacific also stressed that the F1 will not be the only vehicle that could benefit Singapore.

    Former Malaysian F1 driver Alex Yoong said,"It won't do that much for the local motorsport scene. Not as much as you think."

    Pointing out that Formula One is a Euro-centric sport, Yoong who now drives in the A1GP said it (the A1GP) would help the local motorsports scene more because it was more "accessible".

    Much is due, he said, to the fact that competitors represent their nation as opposed to a constructor, which is traditional in most formula racing series (including Formula One).

    Founded in 2004 by Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum of Dubai, the A1GP is promoted as the World Cup of Motorsport. The A1GP provides for one car to be delivered to each team, and each such car is mechanically identical, built with many technical restrictions designed to limit performance, reduce running costs and prevent any one team gaining an advantage through better equipment.

    This regulation thus provides a level playing field in which the driver's skill and team effort becomes the primary factor for success.

    Should the A1GP find its way to Singapore hot on the heels of the F1, the local motorsport scene should have no problems getting things off to a roaring start since Singapore formed it's own A1 team in September 2006.

    One month after, the team took part for the first time in A1GP, completing the competition with a credible 19th position out of 24 teams by April in the on-going 2006/2007 season.

    Calling it a "milestone in Singapore Motorsport", CEO of A1GP Asian Region, David Clare said Team Singapore is performing very well for a first season. He also sees a good opportunity for Singapore to compete at a high level of motorsport, and be a catalyst for drivers to get involved in other areas of motorsport.

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    Default F1 drivers hail proposed Singapore circuit

    F1 drivers hail proposed Singapore circuit

    By Patwant Singh, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 04 April 2007 2049 hrs


    SINGAPORE: More Formula One (F1) drivers are eager to try the proposed Singapore street circuit.

    Williams drivers Alex Wurz and Narain Karthikeyan feel that the proposed night race would be a good addition to the sport.

    But legendary driver Sir Jackie Stewart said much work needs to be done, and this includes a simulation that costs about US$30 million to ensure the track is safe.

    The drivers are in Singapore before heading to the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang this weekend.

    The two Williams drivers may be pros but driving in Singapore was not a breeze.

    They lost out to a rookie – Singaporean Alvin Koh - who clocked the fastest time of 1:13:864 on an F1 simulator.

    He won a trip to Europe to compete in a real F1 car with other winners.

    And speaking of the real deal, the two Williams drivers cannot wait for the Singapore F1 race to start.

    Mr Wurz said: "I don't see any problem in night racing - other racing categories have done it. I think the organisers will do a great job in making sure the electricity has a back-up. I think it just raises the show and that is perfect for all of us so I am actually looking forward to it."

    With sparks flying, the night race will literally be more colourful, according to another F1 pro, Mr Karthikeyan.

    The Indian national, who became his country's first F1 driver, is William's current test driver.

    He, too, had a spin on the Singapore circuit.

    Mr Karthikeyan said: "For me, it is quite challenging. Formula One is a sport but it's also a spectacle and for the spectators, it is going to be much more fun."

    For veteran Sir Jackie Stewart, racing under the stars adds a new dimension to the sport.

    The 67-year-old is a three-time former world champ, and he cautions that extensive R&D needs to be done.

    This includes a simulation on the possible scenarios and dangers.

    He said: "That would probably have to be done on another track, and clearly you couldn't do it here. And it must be very expensive, I think it will cost US$20 to US$30 million to be able to do it really correctly and if it were a permanent facility, it could justify that. But for a temporary facility, it may be difficult to justify financially."

    Stewart, who is dyslexic, also made time to visit the Dyslexia Association of Singapore where the Scotsman, though retired from the sport, was still a hit with fans.


    - CNA/so

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    Default Everything you wanted to know about F1

    Published April 6, 2007

    Everything you wanted to know about F1

    By JAIME EE


    SO, Singapore is this close to hosting a leg of the famous motorcar racing event called Formula One. Naturally, many people are very excited at the prospect - like the tourism board, hotels, tyre-makers and that deluded one-litre bone-shaker that just overtook me on the CTE at 120 kmh.

    Of course, hosting this world event is not as simple as lighting up those electronic expressway traffic boards with the words 'Marina-Esplanade area closed. Please use public transport.' A lot of logistics are involved, and it could mean major traffic headaches that would make last year's IMF-World Bank road closures seem like a Thaipusam clog-up in comparison. Indeed, as F1 driver Mark Webber, who was in town recently to test drive the proposed circuit, said: 'In order for it to work, people have to see the event as a matter of national pride.'

    What does this mean? For one thing, Singaporeans should embrace this world-class event on our shores, and not sully it with letters to the forum pages about why the race has to take place in such a traffic-dense area like the civic district when they could be racing through less populated areas like the Kranji farm area which is equally picturesque, has a lot of greenery and on the way back, the F1 drivers can buy locally grown organic vegetables.

    It's possible, then, that even before we sign on the dotted line, some kind of subtle education might be necessary - not all Singaporeans really know what F1 is all about, or what kind of cooperation is expected to ensure a smooth event. So here we propose a simple guide aimed purely at Singaporeans and which answers every question they might have about hosting the F1.

    Here's an excerpt: Question: What is Formula One? Answer: Formula One is a race in which specially made cars and their very well-paid drivers zoom around a track, or in our case, zoom past the Merlion, at a very high speed of up to 300 kmh - to get an idea, imagine yourself driving down the North-South Highway so fast that the traffic police's radar can't detect you, and even if it can, the police car can't drive fast enough to give you a summons. Question: Why do they want the race to take place at night? Answer: Because of Singapore's heat. F1 drivers drive without airconditioning - as the car cabin is very small, the drivers get so hot that they can lose one or two kilos in just one race. It can be horribly uncomfortable - just like being crammed at peak hours in a crowded bus with faulty airconditioning. Question: So does this mean that during the race, F1 drivers can use bus lanes without getting fined? Answer: Yes, not only normal bus lanes but also the special all-day lanes marked with the red and yellow lines. They can also cross double white lines if they feel like it. And they are exempt from ERP charges. Question: That is very unfair. Answer: If you think that is unfair, wait till you find out that they also get a year's supply of free parking coupons. Question: But seriously, why can't they race in Kranji? Answer: Because, you stupid goose, that place is so ulu nobody will want to go there and the only ones watching will be the goats in the dairy farm.

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    Default Re: F1 in Singapore

    Published April 7, 2007

    Revving up for an F1 treat

    Ms Conner: F1 fans are interested in financial services

    By SAMUEL EE


    (SINGAPORE) First, there was a Formula One driver in a convertible cruising past the Esplanade. Soon there could be a real F1 car hurtling down that same route.

    A street demo of a Formula One car could be organised by financial services giant ING for its high-end clients here next year if the Renault F1 team and the local authorities give the green light.

    Isabelle Conner, managing director of ING Renault's F1 programme, says it's a possibility if Renault has an opening in its 2008 calendar and the Singapore authorities are willing to close some streets for such an event.

    ING became the title sponsor of the Renault F1 team this year in the biggest non-tobacco sponsorship deal in F1 history.

    But while ING may partner Renault in such an event next year, at least one other car maker is said to be keen to do a street demo this year.

    This is according to Anand Vathiyar, organiser of this week's MotorsportsAsia: The Grand Prix for Marketeers, a forum highlighting business opportunities arising from hosting a motorsports event here.

    'While organising the forum we met another client who is very keen to do something like this and we may not have to wait next year,' Mr Anand says. He declines to give more details, but it is understood the client is among the top five F1 teams.

    'If it does happen, one possible scenario is an F1 car racing down Esplanade Drive before turning right towards Anderson Bridge while the VIP guests watch from the Fullerton Waterboat House, sipping their champagne and nibbling on canapes,' says Mr Anand.

    'Several private and public sector groups are already lined up to broadcast the event and promote it internationally if it gets the go-ahead.'

    Such street demos have been organised regularly in other countries. ING, for instance, will hold a Warsaw City Event with Renault in June.

    During the day-long programme, F1 drivers will race for an hour before visiting a children's hospital and performing other charity-related work before lunching with the country's top CEOs.

    'Renault is very flexible and open to such events,' says Ms Conner, adding that this is one of the reasons Dutch-based ING picked the French team among the top three F1 teams when it decided late last year to become a sponsor.

    'Culturally, it is a good fit because we are both very approachable brands concerned with value for money,' she says.

    Ms Conner spoke about 'The Road to F1 Sponsorship' at the two-day MotorsportsAsia forum. ING offers insurance, banking and asset management services in 50 countries but still has an issue with brand awareness, she said. To increase this in its target markets of Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, the company homed in on F1 from a list of sports.

    'F1 is one of these turnkey sponsorships,' she says. 'You sign one contract and you get access to 17 Grand Prix races around the world. So right away you get access to a platform and 850 million fans.'

    She won't say how much the sponsorship is costing ING annually, but the first year of its three-year deal is likely to be more than US$80 million, because apart from the title sponsorship there are also on-track branding and other publicity costs.

    But the amount should be worth it because research shows F1 fans are interested in financial services, according to Ms Conner.

    'F1 fans are a very good representation of the population and they are slightly more interested in managing their assets.'

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    Default Re: F1 in Singapore

    April 8, 2007, 11.30 pm (Singapore time)

    F1 will add buzz to S'pore and region: George Yeo


    HAVING a Formula One race in both Singapore and Malaysia will help add buzz to the region and make both countries more attractive to investors, Foreign Minister George Yeo said on Sunday after attending his first F1 race in Sepang.

    Singapore, he said, was going big on sports events such as the F1 to make it a more attractive city.

    'It is part of the modern world, part of the attraction of talent and making Singapore an interesting, lively city, attracting capital and talent. So providing additional buzz like F1 will help,' he said.

    There was much scope for Singapore and Malaysia to work together to do so, he added.

    'If we combine our strengths in certain sectors, I believe we can be a strong combination. And the political climate is right for that now.'

    One possible area of cooperation would be the F1 race, he said, noting the races in the two countries would be complementary.

    A consortium led by hotelier Ong Beng Seng is in negotiations with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to bring the race to Singapore.

    Mr Yeo said: 'I spoke to Mr Ong Beng Seng the other day. He is very keen on working collaboratively with Sepang, and I mentioned this to Mr Mokhzani earlier today.'

    Mr Yeo was attending the F1 race at the invitation of Sepang International Circuit chairman Mokhzani Mahathir.

    Another area for partnership is the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in South Johor - the 2,217 sq km special economic zone planned for southern Johor.

    It will be the first zone in the country to have a large chunk of its economy open to foreigners without restrictions.

    Mr Yeo noted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would be going to Malaysia for a retreat with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi in the middle of May.

    'I am quite sure one area in which they will discuss is how we can work together cooperatively on developing the IDR,'' he said.

    'If the IDR takes off, Singapore will benefit, and if Singapore prospers, many of the spin-offs and spillovers will go to the IDR. 'I see a lot of prospects here for mutual benefits in closer collaboration.'

    Asked by reporters to confirm if F1 would be coming to Singapore, he replied: 'I think the Government has given approval for the project to go ahead based on certain conditions. So the negotiations are going on between Ong Beng Seng and Bernice Ecclestone.

    'Whether or not there would be a deal, we don't not know. I suppose we will know shortly.'

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