Prominent leaders and thinkers to attend Singapore forum

American statesman Henry Kissinger (left) and former US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen are among a long list of top names who will be in Singapore in November for the business forum. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

American statesman Henry Kissinger, former United States Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd are among a long list of top names who will be in Singapore in November for an inaugural business forum to be hosted by billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

The New Economy Forum, which gathers about 400 corporate head honchos and thinkers, has a guest list that reads like a who's who in business and politics.

Names include former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, General Motors chairman and chief executive Mary Barra, Mr David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of private equity investment firm The Carlyle Group, and Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani.

The forum was originally scheduled to be held in Beijing from Nov 6 to 8. But with the US-China trade war in full play and a scheduling conflict with a highly significant import expo backed by Chinese president Xi Jinping, Mr Bloomberg's forum had to make way.

When Mr Bloomberg's Chinese partner, the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges think tank, asked last month that the event be moved to next November, organisers shopped for a new venue and settled on Singapore.

"The conversation can't wait," said Mr Justin Smith, Global CEO of the Bloomberg Media Group.

"Read the newspaper every day and look what's happening across all the key areas that this forum is going to focus on. What is the future of global governance? How are the US and China going to come together to agree on a global system? What institutions are going to be created?"

The aim is to bring together the top minds and managers to devise "actionable solutions" to pressing issues - global governance, trade, technology, inclusion, finance, urbanisation and climate change.

"If governments cannot solve them, Mike Bloomberg believes the private sector should step up and lead," Mr Smith told The Straits Times.

The organisers have been working with McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the management consulting firm, to develop solutions which business leaders - chairmen and CEOs only - will brainstorm and adopt at the two-day discussions on Nov 6 and 7 in Capella Singapore.

Mr Smith said the programme for the forum, which has been getting support from government agencies here, will be adjusted to reflect Singapore and Asean as well.

Other big names aside, there will no doubt be great interest in Mr Bloomberg's presence after he reportedly said on Sept 14 that he is considering running for US president as a Democrat in 2020.

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