Banking on Singapore

Long-time DBS stalwart Eric Ang has witnessed first-hand the many ground-breaking ventures undertaken by the bank over the years. Watersheds include the Singtel IPO, which helped transform Singapore into a share-owning society.
Long-time DBS stalwart Eric Ang has witnessed first-hand the many ground-breaking ventures undertaken by the bank over the years. Watersheds include the Singtel IPO, which helped transform Singapore into a share-owning society.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The financing of the first multi-storey shopping mall, Plaza Singapura, in 1975; the launch of one of the first condominiums, Pandan Valley, in 1977; the first international IPO of a locally incorporated firm, Singapore Airlines, in 1985; and an unprecedented move to turn Singapore into a share-owning society through the Singtel IPO in 1993 - these are just some of the pioneering efforts that DBS has been involved in.

Set up as a development bank in 1968 to drive industrialisation, it is now South-east Asia's largest bank.

For senior executive adviser Eric Ang, who has spent 37 years at DBS, the Singtel IPO ranks among the most memorable of the transactions that came under his charge. It made 1.4 million Singaporeans direct shareholders of the telecommunications company - over five times the figure for a typical IPO here. It was done by allowing Singaporeans to use their CPF monies to apply for discounted shares.

There were so many subscriptions they had to use a warehouse at the old World Trade Centre, where VivoCity is now, to do the processing. Mr Ang, then head of capital markets, led a team of some 25 bankers, who worked for more than half a year on the IPO.

DBS was the lead manager; Keppel Bank of Singapore, OCBC, Overseas Union Bank, Tat Lee Bank and United Overseas Bank were also involved in processing subscriptions.

On the day subscriptions closed, Mr Ang was interviewed on national TV. He appeared again the following day, in the same clothes, having pulled an all-nighter. "I didn't have the chance to go home at all."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2015, with the headline 'Banking on Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe