If iconic brand names are the economic soul of the nation, as a business bigwig once put it, the loss of local brands to foreign entities dilutes the collective sense of ownership that citizens feel towards national names. This was the residual sentiment when Raffles Hotel and Tiger Beer passed into foreign hands. It is the same today with the possible sale of Zouk, identified intimately with the flowering of Singapore's nightlife.
The prospect has dismayed many of its patrons and others who appreciate its distinctive contribution to the industry. The dance club is associated so closely with the evolution of the entertainment scene here that a change of ownership carries with it the risk of the club taking a radically new direction that disrupts its lure for a faithful local clientele. A different business culture might make Zouk lose its Singaporean identity, one which has placed it in the league of the top 10 nightclubs in the world. That would be a shame, particularly when SG50 celebrates Singapore's staying power as a nation.
Certainly, economics is unsentimental: Companies fare as the global market decrees. It is true also that large foreign players can give a new lease of life to local businesses. So long as a brand retains a prominent local presence, some might say it will remain identifiably national like Raffles and Tiger do. Indeed, the same laws of globalisation that allow Singaporean brands to venture abroad must surely apply to those who would enter the local market. Yet, while the head will understand, the hearts of local patrons will surely wish that a local player might emerge victorious in bidding for the continuation of a name that has taken on a local life of its own.