By Gavin Bowring and Hafiz Noor Shams

Only a few hundred meters from Singapore, the sleepy fishing villages that flank the Malaysia-Singapore Second Bridge, to the west of Johor Bahru’s famous Iskandar development, feel a world away from skyscrapers and hustle.

But this is set to change. Country Garden, one of China’s largest real estate developers, has bought a huge 1,800 hectare area of land and sea, and has made progress on developing “Forest City”, a planned mega-project almost entirely built on four separate reclaimed islands.

When completed, it would be even larger than Singapore’s Sentosa Island and have a skyline reminiscent of Dubai or Shanghai’s Pudong district (see photo). Read more

By Mohan Pillay, Pinsent Masons

A quiet revolution is taking place in commercial litigation. Global businesses, organs of state and wealthy families – concerned by the havoc that the twists and turns of public litigation can inflict upon their reputation or share price – are increasingly turning to a more discreet way to resolve their disputes.

International arbitration – a process that uses a private tribunal composed of global legal cognoscenti agreed by both parties – is becoming more popular. Recent research carried out by Pinsent Masons has found that almost all of the major centres of international arbitration have reported an increase in the number of cases lodged during the past year. Read more

Asian fund passport plans, to borrow the old cliché, are like London buses: you wait ages for one and then three come at once.

Wednesday’s announcement between the regulatory bodies of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to create a system for cross-border distribution of mutual funds was the third in the region this year. Read more

For commodity traders involved in emerging markets – say, buying cotton in Africa and selling it to China – one of the biggest headaches since the financial crisis has been the tightening of trade finance terms by banks.

It has been harder to finance shipments of commodities as btanks, eager to reduce risk, have been reluctant to offer financing over long distances, or where there is a significant lag between the placement of an order by a customer and receipt of the goods.

Enter Maersk Line with a way round the problem. Read more

With air pollution in Singapore sinking to the worst level ever recorded because of pervasive forest fires in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the blame game is in full swing.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore‘s environment minister, has called for “urgent and definitive action” by Indonesia, saying that “Singaporeans have lost patience, and are understandably angry, distressed and concerned”. But with accusations flying, who is really at fault? Read more

It has taken almost a week, but one of China’s biggest scrap metal dealers is finally ready for a, er, scrap.

China Metal Recycling, a HK$11bn company, was targeted by a Californian short-seller and research company on Monday. Glaucus Research Group, a new name on the beat-em-up circuit, issued a report on Monday accusing the the Hong Kong-listed group of exaggerating the size of its business. Read more

To the lengthening list of foreign companies beating a path to Myanmar, add at least two more: Wilmar, one of Asia’s largest agribusinesses, and Cargill, the commodities’ trader.

Wilmar, a Singapore-listed group and the world’s largest processor of palm oil by volume, told beyondbrics it planned to make “significant investments” focusing on rice, fertilisers, sugar and vegetable oil. Cargill told beyondbrics it was “exploring opportunities” in the southeast Asian country for importing and exporting food and livestock feed. Read more

Initial public offering windows are opening and closing faster than ever and the story of equity capital markets issuance globally isn’t great. The latest figures from Dealogic for south-east Asia underscore those grim facts.

The value of all equity raisings in the region so far this year – initial public offerings, rights issues and the like – is down 32 per cent to $7.3bn. This was the lowest level since the same period in 2009, when the figure was $6.8bn.

But Malaysia is bucking the trend – big time. Read more