Hi there! Miss me?
I’ve been really busy this week. Been sleeping past midnight for 4 nights in a row, doing one assignment after another. Completed 2 write-ups and 1 presentation pack. Still have 2 more write-ups, 1 more presentation pack and 1 mid term exam to go. And of course, the 2 presentation packs have to be presented in due course.
Last night there was a talk by Mizuho at the campus. Had to attend it as part of Corporate Finance class requirement (yes, attendance was taken). Being typical multitasking Malaysian, I was thinking of sitting quietly at the back, doing my assignments while the speaker talked. But then I decided to abandon the idea. It wasn’t like we always get the chance to hear talks from industry players, much less MNCs. Since I was already attending it, might as well make a good use of what it had to offer.
A bit on Mizuho – it’s the name of the suburb where my aunt stays in Tokyo :-p Okay, seriously. Don’t confuse it with the sportswear company, that’s Mizuno (with an N). Mizuho Financial Group is a banking holding company (Mizuho Bank being one of their banks). Their banking businesses rank the third in Japan by market capitalization.
There were two speakers – Mr. Lim who’s an AGM from Singapore office and Abe-san who’s a SVP from Tokyo head office. The topic was “Project Finance”. Both speakers are well-versed in the area, having done project finance in more countries than I can count.
I shall not bore you with the details of project finance, but let me share some interesting points that were discussed by the speakers:
(1) Keppel Corporation
One of the case examples used in the lecture was Keppel Corporation, a Singaporean GLC partly owned by Temasek Holdings (equivalent to Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional). Keppel Corporation owns Keppel Seghers, which is responsible to build and maintain an incineration (garbage burning) plant in Singapore. The project is a private-public partnership between Keppel Segher and National Environment Agency of Singapore.
What’s so interesting about incineration plant anyway? Hear this: The electricity produced from garbage burning is sold to the energy pool market. The ashes from the waste is sent to Semakau landfill (a small island some 20 km from Singapore main island) to be dumped, topped with soil and grass. Hence the dumpsite looks really clean and green like football fields. They even encourage tourism there.
Singapore’s waste dumpsite – Semakau (photo credit to this page).
Malaysia’s waste dumpsite – Tanah Merah (photo credit to this page).
I shall not say more.
(2) Euro Disneyland
Abe-san mentioned that one of the biggest project finance failure was Euro Disneyland (now known as Disneyland Paris). Just because many people liked Mickey Mouse, they assumed that Europeans liked Mickey Mouse too. And they assumed that Europeans were willing to go to Paris to see Mickey Mouse. It turned out that the crowd at Euro Disneyland was far lower than expected, unlike Tokyo Disneyland which was (and still is) very successful.
My personal opinion is that Europeans are people of class and sophistication. They won’t be caught dead wearing Mickey Mouse ears wandering around Champs-Élysées or Trafalgar Square. Moreover, the location of Disneyland Paris is so far away from the city centre (about 2 hours travel or so), which was the reason why I didn’t go there when I was in Paris, even though I’m a huge Mickey Mouse fan.
(3) Euro Tunnel
Imagine this: A UK company started to build it form UK, while a French company started to build it from France, both at the same time. In the end, the tunnel didn’t meet halfway underground. The result? Very high cost to perform corrective action. Fortunately it’s all well now.
To sum everything up, it was a good session. Glad that I attended it and stayed for the entire talk (half of the hall was gone by break time). Hope there will be more talks from industry players like this in the future.