Singapore – The Regional Headquarters Of Major MNCs
Businesses of all sizes, belonging to various trades and hailing from all corners of the globe, have long viewed Singapore as the preferred place in which to locate their Asia Pacific operations. For years, the country has attracted the attention of business owners who look for political stability, easy access to a highly-skilled labour pool and ease of doing business in Singapore, all of which are crucial to ensuring business sustainability and growth.
Far from just doing business in Singapore, these companies are conducting their operations in the wider region. Asia Pacific is a huge geography, encompassing Greater China, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, as well as Australasia. It offers unrivalled business opportunities and is a source of low-cost labour and abundant natural resources. Multinational companies recognise these factors and have been heading for this part of the world. They need a base from which to direct their operations. In the hub and spoke model of modern business, Singapore becomes the natural choice.
One needs to just take a walk in Penjuru Road to notice the numerous large storage tanks that dot the area. These structures are part of a large oil and chemicals loading and unloading terminal belonging to a Dutch multinational firm that blends chemicals and fuels for petrochemical clients. Having come to Singapore three decades ago, the company identified it as the location for its first Asia terminal. Since then, it has built many more in Singapore’s western industrial region, before eventually making Singapore its Asia Pacific Headquarters. These terminals are part of the company’s global supply chain and Singapore is an important hub in its worldwide network. Singapore’s highly-developed transport infrastructure, the presence of other global petrochemical players and a pro-business environment clearly figured highly in the Management’s decision to set up its presence in this region.
Closer to town, leading financial institutions, too, have not only created a presence in Singapore but also made the city their Asia Pacific home. A stroll in the Shenton Way financial district reveals many instantly-recognisable global names. A well-known Swiss investment bank is headquartered here, as is a private bank, also from Switzerland, catering to private and institutional investors. Together, they cater to the well-heeled from Singapore and the region. That high net worth individuals from neighbouring ASEAN countries and other parts of Asia look to Singapore to grow their wealth is testimony to Singapore’s sound governance, secure financial system and transparent business culture. Singapore also plays host to a top United Kingdom-based asset management firm, among others, whose fund managers help clients manage their investment portfolios. Even the World Bank has its East Asia Pacific regional office in Singapore.
Companies present in Singapore are not limited to the industrial and financial trades. An American firm that processes and distributes animal feed, grains and palm oil made Singapore its regional hub in Asia Pacific more than 30 years ago. The company’s leadership identified the country as the perfect base from which to run its Asian growth engine. Since then, the privately-held business has firmly entrenched itself in the republic, while operating poultry-processing plants in Thailand, sourcing from cocoa plantations in Indonesia and processing imported soybeans to be used as animal feed in China. So much has the company gained from being located in Singapore that it is now actively giving back to society. As part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, it contributes to voluntary welfare organisations and an endowment fund it has set up with a local university.
Many more examples abound of multinational firms sinking their roots in Singapore. In the business consulting space, an American market intelligence consultancy specialising in the IT industry made Singapore its Asia Pacific base, while operating local offices in various countries in the region. As regional marketing executives from the major IT vendors provide guidance for their quarterly business performance, analysts in the consultancy compile top-line, regional information and generate forecasts, while verifying country-specific information with their local analyst counterparts. Singapore certainly has a big role to play in the transfer of business-sensitive information. Singapore’s reputation as the fourth best place in the world and the best in Asia in the area of intellectual property (IP) protection, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, is in play here.
With so many global firms making Singapore their regional home, Singapore has lots to offer global firms. Businesses will have much to gain by making Singapore their Asia Pacific Headquarters.
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