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Singapore Telecom goes public 12th Oct 1993

Singapore Telecom (also known as SingTel) held the initial public offer of its shares on 12 October 1993 and made its debut on the Stock Exchange of Singapore on 1 November the following month.

The history of telephone service in Singapore began in 1879 with a trial connection made between Raffles Square and Tanjong Pagar using a telegraph line. Behind this connection was Bennett Pell, manager of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, who started the first Private Telephone Exchange made up of a simple manual switchboard with 50 lines. He gave Singapore a headstart as the colony was the first in the East to have a telephone system, barely three years after Alexander Graham Bell patented his invention.[1] This exchange was located at Collyer Quay, operating from the office of John Fraser & Co.[2] From 1882, this exchange grew under a new owner, the Oriental Telephone and Electric Company (OTEC), and was marked by several milestones, including the opening of a Central Telephone Exchange in Hill Street in 1907 and the start of international services inaugurated by a Singapore-London call on 1 December 1937.[3]

After World War II, the rate of subscribers overwhelmed OTEC's capacity and it could not cope with the increased load. This prompted the British colonial government to terminate its licence in 1954 and acquire its assets on 1 January the following year. The domestic telephone service then came under a new body, the Singapore Telephone Board (STB), formed under the Singapore Telephone Board Ordinance, while another entity, the Telephone Department, took charge of trunk and international telephone services.[4] The latter was converted into a statutory board, the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS), on 1 April 1972 in preparation for a merger with STB. On 1 April 1974, STB and TAS merged into a single statutory board known as Telecommunication Authority of Singapore or Telecoms, in a bid to streamline operations and provide higher quality and efficient services.[5] To improve its corporate presence as it entered a new decade in the 1980s, Telecoms issued a new logo that incorporated the letter “T” to symbolise “Telecoms”. The move was also done in part to distance itself from the Soviet news agency, TAS. The new logo was unveiled at the official opening of Telecoms' new Comcentre on 5 October 1979.[6] The Postal Department was merged with Telecoms on 1 October 1982 with the objective of optimising resources from both organisations and provide the “most efficient and cheapest service to the public”.[7]

On 1 April 1992, the telecommunications aspect of Telecoms was corporatised as Singapore Telecommunications Private Limited (Singapore Telecom) while its postal services was taken over by a newly formed subsidiary company, Singapore Post Pte Ltd. TAS was reconstituted  as the regulator of telecommunications and postal industries. The move, which was in preparation for Singapore Telecom going public, resulted in new logos for both Singapore Telecom and TAS.[8]

Singapore Telecom's initial public offering opened on 12 October 1993 and the shares floated on the Stock Exchange of Singapore on 1 November. Its public listing made history as 1.4 million Singapore citizens became direct shareholders of a giant national utilities company for the very first time. The event also marked the biggest floatation on the stock exchange as it handled a company with a share capital of 15.25 billion shares.[9]

1. How it all began. (1990, June). Keylines, 6. Call no.: RSING 384.095957 K; One hundred years of telephone service in Singapore. (1979, April 1). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Telephonic. (1881, October 31). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Keylines, Jun 1990, p. 6.
4. A hundred years of dedicated telephone service in Singapore, 1879–1979 (pp. 11, 13). (1982). Singapore: Public Relations Department of the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore. Call no.: RSING q384.6095957 HUN; A brief look at merger. (1972, September 1). Hello: Newsletter of the Singapore Telephone Board, 1(3), 1. Call no.: RSING 384.029 H.
5. TAS-STB merger to streamline telecoms and phone services. (1974, April 1). The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Hello, Sep 1972, p. 1; A hundred years of dedicated telephone service in Singapore, 1879-1979, 1982, p. 14.
6. Introducing Telecoms’ improved logo. (1979, October 6). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Comcentre... building for the future. (1979, October). Hello, 6(10), 1. Call no.: RSING 384.029 H; Hello October 1979 pull-out supplement, 1-5. (1979, October). Hello, 6(10), 1. Call no.: RSING 384.029 H.
7. More facilities from network of post offices. (1982, September 1). The Straits Times, p. 13; Telecoms tie-up just for you. (1982, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Corporatisation: A brand new chapter. (1992, April). Hello, 3. Call no.: RSING 384.029 H; Lee, D. (1992, April 2), S'pore Telecom to monopolise some services for 15 yrs. The Straits Times, p. 1; S'pore Telecom will be wholly-owned unit of new govt holding company. (1992, March 31). The Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; New logo ushers in a new Singapore Telecom [pull-out]. (1992, April). Hello. Call no.: RSING 384.029 H.
9. Singapore Telecom goes public. (1993, November). Hello, 2–3. Call no.: RSING 384.029 H; S'pore telecom debut ushers in new era for stock exchange. (1993, November 2). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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