Brief Book Review of “The Singapore Blue Chips” by Vijayaraghavan and Desai

My friend Umesh Desai recently gave me a signed copy of his book “Singapore Blue Chips: The Rewards and Risks of Investing in Singapore’s Largest Corporates”, which he co-authored with Nandini Vijayaraghavan.  It is available from both the publisher and Amazon.

The book is an easy, modular read with each chapter providing a concise history and explanation of the wealthy city-state’s largest and best known companies.  My favorite quote from the book is right in the introduction, where a journalist joked that Singapore listed companies are made up of MNCs, GLCs, and PLCs (Multi-nationals, Government-linked companies, and poor local companies).  For a reader like me who is fascinated with the history of Singapore and its remarkable economic growth since independence, this book tells the story of individual names starting with Temasek; then agricultural firms Golden Agri,  Wilmar, and Olam; and the big banks DBS, UOB and OCBC.  There are also chapters on globally known names like SGX, Singapore Airlines, and SingTel, as well as on S-REITs, but I would have been interested to read more on the timely changes in the transport sector, namely Temasek’s takeover of Singapore’s public transit operator SMRT and more on how Grab and Uber are challenging ComfortDelGro’s ubiquitous taxis (Uber, Lyft, Curb, and Sidecar are mentioned as challenges on page 237, but Grab seems to be the dominant ride hailing app in Singapore in my experience).

Alongside coffee-table books with photographs of old Singapore, I expect to keep referencing this for the background stories on Lion City’s big names for as long as these stocks remain in the Straits Times Index.

Photo Credit: Port in Singapore circa 1900, from Wikimedia Commons

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