Daily Briefing: Singapore cuts reliance on sand amidst Malaysia curbs; BNP Paribas culls Asian equities team

And proptech startup UrbanAgents raised $2m in seed funding.

From Bloomberg:

Singapore said it’s been trying to reduce reliance on sand, as neighboring Malaysia announced a ban on all exports of sea sand since last year on environmental concerns.

The city-state piloted a polder development in outlying Pulau Tekong that uses less sand compared to regular reclamation, a spokesperson for Singapore’s Ministry of National Development said in a statement.

The exports ban won’t affect ties with Singapore as it isn’t related to the city-state’s reclamation efforts, he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Sand is said to be a key resource for neighboring Singapore, which looks to land reclamation as part of its plan to mitigate the impact of climate change. Almost one-third of the country rests just five meters above sea level.

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From Bloomberg:

BNP Paribas SA will cut its Asia equity research team in Hong Kong and Singapore and will instead use content from Morningstar Inc., people familiar with the matter said.

About a dozen analysts in those locations will leave whilst five analysts will stay and cover macro and sector research for the region excluding India. BNP on Thursday confirmed the agreement with Morningstar without giving details on jobs cuts.

The tie-up with Morningstar would be among the biggest changes to research in Asia in recent years, and is partly due to pressures brought about by European regulations known as MiFID II.

Morningstar will track about 150 stocks in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan across sectors including financials, real estate, consumer and energy, BNP said in a statement on Thursday.

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From DealStreetAsia:

UrbanAgents, a Singapore-based AI-powered property technology (proptech) startup, has raised $2m (US$1.5m) in seed funding from Singapore-listed APAC Realty, FarSight Capital, and angel investors, according to a company statement.

The startup said it will use the fresh funding to integrate AI in setting up a performance-based commission guide for home sellers and top agents in the city-state. The referral platform connects home sellers to a curated list of agents from various real estate agencies. UrbanAgents says it looks at the past transactions and the listing history of agents before adding them to its platform.

In the traditional model, agents taking a fixed commission rate have little incentive to “go the distance” in order to achieve a higher price for the home seller.

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