The World’s Newest Call Center Billionaire

Meet the world’s newest call center billionaire. Laurent Junique is quite the globe-trotter: He’s a French citizen, his company is based in Singapore and he just listed that company, TDCX Inc., on the New York Stock Exchange last week.

Junique, TDCX’s 55-year-old founder and CEO, also just joined the billionaire ranks: Junique’s 87% stake in the firm is now worth $3 billion, thanks to a 34% rise in TDCX shares since the IPO on October 1—an offering that raised nearly $350 million for the company.

Started in 1995 in Singapore as Teledirect, an outsourced call center that handled calls, emails and faxes for a variety of clients, the company rebranded as TDCX in 2019 to reflect its expansion into a range of services including content moderation, marketing and e-commerce support. (CX is short for “customer experience” in the customer service industry.)

TDCX reported a $64 million net profit on $323 million sales in 2020, an improvement from the $54 million profit and $242 million in revenues it recorded in 2019. That growth came in part due to greater use of the services that TDCX offers, including tools that help companies improve the performance of employees working from home. Still, TDCX is highly dependent on two clients—Facebook and Airbnb—which collectively accounted for 62% of sales in 2020.

“Our successful listing reflects the world-class company that we have built and our position as the go-to partner for transformative digital customer experience services,” Junique said in a statement on the day of the IPO. “We are grateful for the support of our clients, many of whom are global technology companies that are fuelling the growth of the digital economy.”

Junique is the second call center billionaire that Forbes has tracked. The first, Kenneth Tuchman, founded Englewood, Colorado-based TTEC Holdings (formerly called TeleTech), in 1982; at nearly $2 billion, the firm had about six times the revenues of TDCX last year. Tuchman first became a billionaire in 2007. Several Indian billionaires, including HCL Technologies cofounder Shiv Nadar and Wipro’s former chairman Azim Premji, offer call centers as some of the services their firms provide.

Junique will maintain an iron grip on TDCX as a public company, controlling all of the firm’s Class B shares, which make up more than 86% of the firm’s equity and represent 98.5% of voting power. He owns those shares through Transformative Investments Pte Ltd, a company based in the Cayman Islands that is entirely owned—according to public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission—by a trust established for the benefit of Junique and his family. While its headquarters are in Singapore, TDCX has also been incorporated in the Cayman Islands since April 2020; prior to the IPO, the firm was controlled by Junique through a Caymans-based holding company. A spokesperson for TDCX declined to comment.

Before launching TDCX as a 29-year-old in 1995, the French native cut his teeth studying advertising at the École Supérieure de Publicité in Paris and business administration at the nearby École Supérieure Internationale d’Administration des Entreprises, graduating in 1989. After a two-year stint at consumer goods giant Unilever, Junique—who had reportedly been cooking up business ideas since he was a child, including a glass recycling proposal he came up with at age 13—decided he wanted a more international career, but struggled to find a gig as a young graduate with little experience.

Armed with a suitcase and just enough cash to get by, he decamped to Singapore in 1995 to try his luck on the other side of the planet. Singapore offered a strategic location as a modern, English-speaking city at the heart of fast-growing Southeast Asia, and Junique started a call center called Teledirect aimed at businesses looking to cut costs and outsource customer service. Soon enough, Junique scored the firm’s first big client, an American credit card firm based in Singapore.

Two years later, in 1997, Junique sold a 40% stake in Teledirect to London-based advertising giant WPP for an undisclosed amount. Since then, TDCX expanded beyond call centers and now has offices in 11 countries across three continents, including locations in China, Japan and India. In 2018, Junique bought back WPP’s 40% stake in the call center business for about $28 million. Three years of growth later, the company now has a market capitalization of $3.5 billion.

With 2020 marking a record year for TDCX, Junique is hoping that the Covid-induced transition away from offices has made the firm’s products more necessary for its clients. “As consumers live more and more of their lives online, the expectation for things to be done simply, conveniently and on-demand will only increase,” Junique said in a statement.

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I’m a Staff Writer on the Wealth team at Forbes, covering billionaires and their wealth. My reporting has led me to an S&P 500 tech firm in the plains of Oklahoma; a

Source: The World’s Newest Call Center Billionaire

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Stocks, U.S. Futures Dip on Delta Strain Concerns: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks dipped Tuesday amid concerns a more infectious Covid-19 strain will derail an economic recovery. Treasuries and the dollar were steady after gains.

An MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares was on track for its first decline in six days as countries in the region are struggling to contain the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus. U.S. futures dipped after technology stocks led U.S. benchmarks to fresh records Monday. New limits on travel from Britain, which is seeing a spike in cases, dragged on cruise operators and airlines.

The Treasury yield curve flattened amid month-end index rebalancing and the break in auctions until July 12, reducing supply. Oil extended a decline with the market expecting OPEC+ producers to increase supply at an upcoming meeting. Bitcoin was steady around mid-$34,000.

Global stocks are poised to close out their fifth quarterly advance amid a worldwide vaccine rollout that powered an economic recovery and sparked concerns about increasing prices pressures and the withdrawal of stimulus measures. The recovery also drove the reflation trade as more economies reopened, though that is being hampered as some countries, especially in Asia, are falling behind in their vaccine strategies.

The U.S. is now the best place to be during the pandemic due to its fast and expansive vaccine rollout stemming what was once the world’s worst outbreak. Meanwhile, parts of the Asia-Pacific region that performed well in the ranking until now — like Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia — dropped as strict border curbs remain in place.

“The Delta variant has also emerged in our client conversations as a potential threat to reflation/inflation,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists led by Marko Kolanovic said. “The economic consequences are likely to be limited given progress on vaccinations across developed market economies. It could, however, pose some risk of a delay in the recovery in countries where vaccination rates remain lower.”

Read: Asean Equities May Have Priced In Virus Setback: Taking Stock

For more market commentary, follow the MLIV blog.

Here are some events to watch in the markets this week:

  • OECD meets in Paris to finalize a proposal to overhaul global minimum corporate taxation Wednesday
  • China’s President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech as the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party Thursday
  • OPEC+ ministerial meeting Thursday
  • ECB President Christine Lagarde speaks Friday
  • The U.S. jobs report is due Friday

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures dipped 0.1% as of 1:26 p.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 rose 0.2%
  • Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.2%. The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.3%
  • Topix index fell 1%
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.4%
  • Kospi index lost 0.6%
  • Hang Seng Index retreated 0.8%
  • Shanghai Composite Index was down 1%
  • Euro Stoxx 50 futures were little changed

Currencies

  • The yen traded at 110.56 per dollar
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.4638 per dollar
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index edged up
  • The euro traded at $1.1913

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 1.48%
  • Australia’s 10-year bond yield dropped five basis points to 1.53%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude was at $72.56 a barrel, down 0.5%
  • Gold was at $1,774.24, down 0.2%

— With assistance by Rita Nazareth, Vildana Hajric, and Nancy Moran

By:

Source: Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P Live Updates for Jun. 29, 2021 – Bloomberg

.

Critics:

Beginning on 13 May 2019, the yield curve on U.S. Treasury securities inverted, and remained so until 11 October 2019, when it reverted to normal. Through 2019, while some economists (including Campbell Harvey and former New York Federal Reserve economist Arturo Estrella) argued that a recession in the following year was likely,other economists (including the managing director of Wells Fargo Securities Michael Schumacher and San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary C. Daly) argued that inverted yield curves may no longer be a reliable recession predictor.

The yield curve on U.S. Treasuries would not invert again until 30 January 2020 when the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, four weeks after local health commission officials in Wuhan, China announced the first 27 COVID-19 cases as a viral pneumonia strain outbreak on 1 January.

The curve did not return to normal until 3 March when the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) lowered the federal funds rate target by 50 basis points. In noting decisions by the FOMC to cut the federal funds rate by 25 basis points three times between 31 July and 30 October 2019, on 25 February 2020, former U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs Nathan Sheets suggested that the attention of the Federal Reserve to the inversion of the yield curve in the U.S. Treasuries market when setting monetary policy may be having the perverse effect of making inverted yield curves less predictive of recessions.

See also

 

Bankruptcy Cases In Singapore At 5-Year Low Amid Covid-19 Relief Measures

SINGAPORE – Even as the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the economy, the number of people who were made bankrupt last year sank to the lowest in five years.

Bankruptcy orders tumbled more than 40 per cent to 965 from 1,645 in 2019. Figures from the Law Ministry’s Insolvency Office website showed more than 1,600 bankruptcy orders were made annually between 2016 and 2018.

Experts said the drop in numbers could be due to the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and government support schemes which provided temporary relief for financially distressed individuals.

Lawyer Chia Boon Teck of Chia Wong Chambers said: “Pre-Covid-19, the law allows a debtor 21 days to pay up on a statutory demand. However, the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 extends the 21 days to six months. This in effect puts a five-month moratorium on outstanding debts.”

The Covid-19 law also raised the minimal debt from $15,000 to $60,000 so debtors owing less than $60,000 are not exposed to threats of bankruptcy, he added.

Last year, bankruptcy applications fell to 2,833 from 3,473 in 2019, reversing an upward trend since 2014.”The twin measures probably account for the drastic drop in bankruptcy applications,” said Mr Chia.

Maybank Kim Eng senior economist Chua Hak Bin said bankruptcies could have been far worse if not for the fiscal support and relief measures that also saw “the freezing of creditors’ rights to commence legal action for default until late 2020”.

Figures from the Insolvency Office website also showed corporate insolvency numbers fell, with 206 applications filed for winding up between January and November last year, down from 368 in the same period in 2019.

Said Dr Chua: “We expect the number of bankruptcies to increase in 2021 as the fiscal support and temporary relief measures are wound down.”

He added that such measures can help only firms suffering from a temporary liquidity crunch, “but cannot save firms which are no longer viable in this new normal”.

Among the high-profile bankruptcy proceedings last year was a bankruptcy bid filed against local hardware chain Home-Fix’s founder Low Cheong Kee and his younger brother by paint manufacturer Nippon Paint (Singapore) over a debt of $500,000.

Political party Peoples Voice’s leader Lim Tean also faced bankruptcy claims totalling about $1.45 million.

Mr Nelson Loh, who was behind an audacious bid to buy English Premier League football club Newcastle United last year, was adjudged a bankrupt by the Singapore High Court in December. He had failed to pay an outstanding debt of over $14 million to DBS Bank.

His cousin Terence Loh is also facing bankruptcy proceedings filed by Maybank over a $3 million debt.

George (not his real name), a 50-year-old bankrupt, said: “The government relief measures only helped to delay the proceedings. Financially distressed individuals would still be struggling to raise enough money to pay their debts amid the pandemic.”

He said he filed for bankruptcy as he was unable to pay his debts of over $100,000 to various banks.

“Some people may think I had chosen the easy way out, but it’s not. It was a difficult decision to make. Many companies will not hire me because I am a bankrupt. And I also can’t manage a business or act as director of a company.”

As at Dec 31, there were 10,269 undischarged bankrupts.

A bankrupt may try to have his bankruptcy status annulled after paying off all outstanding debts. He can also apply to the High Court to grant him a discharge or the court-assigned administrator may discharge him after at least three years of good conduct, provided his debts do not exceed $500,000 and his creditors do not object.

By: Joyce Lim Senior Correspondent

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Bankruptcies filed in Singapore have skyrocketed to more than 460 in March. Latest official figures show that is the highest in more than 15 years. Lawyers CNA spoke to said they have also seen more enquiries about loan obligations. Subscribe to our channel here: https://cna.asia/youtubesub Subscribe to our news service on Telegram: https://cna.asia/telegram Follow us: CNA: https://cna.asia CNA Lifestyle: http://www.cnalifestyle.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/channelnewsasia Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/channelnews… Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/channelnewsasia

Why Singapore, Once a Model for Coronavirus Response, Lost Control of Its Outbreak

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A man walks along the corridor of Tuas South dormitory in Singapore on April 19, 2020. Roslan Raman—AFP/Getty Images

Singapore was once seen as a model for how to hold back the coronavirus. But now the tiny city-state, with a population of 5.6 million, has the most reported coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia.

On Monday, officials recorded a new daily record—more than 1,400 additional cases. The number of COVID-19 cases has increased more than two and a half times in the last week, with more than 8,000 total.

Experts say the surge, which began last week, is due largely to local officials underestimating the vulnerability of the city’s migrant workers, who live in cramped dormitories with up to 20 people to a room.

Just 16 of the new cases Monday were Singapore citizens or permanent residents. About three-quarters of all cases in Singapore are linked to the workers’ dormitories, according to official figures.

In the early months of the outbreak, Singapore’s response was praised—alongside those in Hong Kong and Taiwan—as a model for how to stop slow the spread of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) commended Singapore, citing its widespread testing and comprehensive tracing of close contacts.

Singapore had also largely managed to quell a second wave of the virus, caused by students and other residents returning home from the U.S. and Europe. Authorities have only recorded one imported case since April8 .

But Hong Kong and Taiwan now appear to have a much better handle on the outbreak. Hong Kong recorded no new cases Monday, and Taiwan recorded just two. Both also have a fraction of the confirmed infections. (1,025 in Hong Kong and 422 in Taiwan), despite having larger populations.

‘A cognitive blindspot’

An estimated 200,000 migrants workers live in 43 dormitories in Singapore, according to figures from the Ministry of Manpower. Most are from less wealthy nations like India and China, and are employed in low-wage jobs like construction, shipyard work and cleaning.

Between 12 and 20 workers typically live in one room, according to TWC2, a non-profit organization that supports migrant workers in Singapore. They share common facilities, like bathrooms and kitchens.

“The dormitories and management of the migrant workers have been a cognitive blindspot,” says Jeremy Lim, a professor and the co-director of global health at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

Keep up to date on the growing threat to global health by signing up for our daily coronavirus newsletter.

“The dorms are structurally not able to provide for the social distancing that is necessary,” Lim, who also works with a local NGO to provide medical care to migrant workers, adds.

Over the last week, authorities have worked to move workers out of their dorms and into vacant public housing blocks, military camps and other accommodations.

Even though the number of infected migrant workers has surged, community-transmitted cases among Singaporeans has been declining, a sign that tough new measures involving the closure of schools, mandatory masking and other policies implemented earlier this month could be working.

But Singapore’s hard-won early victories could easily be undone by the outbreak rampaging through the migrant worker community, Lim warns.

“We are at a critical juncture,” he says. “If we cannot contain the dormitory or the migrant worker outbreaks, it will inevitably spill back into the general population because Singapore is just so small and compact.”

By Hillary Leung  April 20, 2020 7:15 AM EDT

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Since the outbreak of Covid-19, a number of countries including Singapore have imposed increasingly stringent measures. Singapore announced that it will be further tightening its borders. All short-term visitors will no longer be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore from 11.59pm on March 23. This follows other measures including rigorous contact tracing, quarantine and home isolation orders, and stricter social distancing recommendations. In light of all these measures, how important is personal hygiene and cleanliness in dealing with Covid-19? #thebigstory #coronavirus #covid19 ——————– SUBSCRIBE ➤ http://bit.ly/FollowST ——————– WEBSITE ➤ http://www.straitstimes.com TWITTER ➤ https://www.twitter.com/STcom FACEBOOK ➤ https://www.facebook.com/TheStraitsTimes INSTAGRAM ➤ https://www.instagram.com/straits_times PODCASTS ➤ https://omny.fm/shows/st-bt/playlists The Straits Times, the English flagship daily of SPH, has been serving readers for more than a century. Launched on July 15, 1845, its comprehensive coverage of world news, East Asian news, Southeast Asian news, home news, sports news, financial news and lifestyle updates makes The Straits Times the most-read newspaper in Singapore.

In Singapore, Standing Too Close Can Now Get You 6 Months in Jail

In Singapore, one of the most densely populated places in with world, sitting or standing too close to another person is now a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail or a $7,000 fine.

The new laws came into effect on Friday as the city-state takes drastic measures to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid a surge in new cases linked to travelers who have come from other parts of the world.

Anyone who intentionally sits less than one meter (a little more than three feet) away from another person in a public place or who stands less than a meter away from another person in a line will be guilty of an offense, according to rules published by the country’s health ministry. The new restrictions also ban people from sitting on fixed seats that have been marked to indicate they should not be occupied. The measures, which are expected to be in place until April 30, apply to business and individuals.

The Singaporean government also closed bars and nightclubs and placed limitations on gatherings of more than 10 people and banned large events.

Singapore confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Jan. 23, but officials there were able to stave off a major outbreak from spreading from mainland China thanks to aggressive testing, contact tracing and strict quarantine measures. But now Singapore, like several other cities in Asia, is facing a second wave of infections.

Will Coronavirus Ever Go Away? Here’s What One of World Health Organization’s Top Experts Thinks

Dr. Bruce Aylward was part of the WHO’s team that went to China after the coronavirus outbreak there in January. He has urged all nations to use times bought during lockdowns to do more testing and respond aggressively.

On Thursday, officials in Singapore confirmed 52 new cases of the virus. Twenty-eight of those were imported cases, many with a travel history to Europe, North America, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia.

Other governments in the region, which largely avoided large-scale lockdowns that are now taking place across the U.S. and Europe, are introducing increasingly strict measures in the fight against the coronavirus, in the hopes of stopping a resurgence of the illness. The Hong Kong government this week announced that it was considering a ban on serving alcohol at bars and restaurants. Chinese authorities said that they will ban the arrival of most foreigners into the mainland from March 28, in an attempt to stop the virus from coming in from overseas.

The number of people infected with the coronavirus in Singapore rose to 683 on Friday. More than 500,000 people in over 175 countries and territories are now infected by COVID-19.

By Amy Gunia March 27, 2020

Source: In Singapore, Standing Too Close Can Now Get You 6 Months in Jail

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Singapore Starts Probing Goldman Sachs for 1MDB Scandal

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Singapore’s law enforcement authorities have extended their criminal probe against the Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to include Goldman Sachs, according to a Bloomberg report.

Although the city-state’s authorities have been investigating Goldman Sachs’ involvement with the Malaysian scandal-plagued firm since 2017, now they are focusing on the firm’s local unit. The primary focus of the investigation is to see if Goldman’s Singapore subsidiary was involved in moving around $600 million acquired from the three controversial bond deal sales from 2012 to 2013.
The Scandal Explained

1MDB came under the limelight soon after its establishment in 2009, which was then chaired by the former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Leaked financial documents surfaced that huge sums of money were borrowed via government bonds and syphoned into bank accounts in Switzerland, Singapore, and the US.

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