UOB unit drives FDI worth over $27b in S-E Asia

A unit at UOB helped steer more than $27 billion worth of business spending in South-east Asia last year.
A unit at UOB helped steer more than $27 billion worth of business spending in South-east Asia last year.PHOTO: REUTERS

A unit at United Overseas Bank (UOB) that deals with foreign direct investment helped steer more than $27 billion worth of business spending in South-east Asia last year - double the amount recorded in 2015.

The top investment destinations were Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore, according to the unit yesterday.

It also noted that companies expanding into the region were more likely to be from the fast-moving consumer goods, natural resources, and building and construction-related sectors, all keen to tap the region's growth potential.

"South-east Asia is an attractive investment destination due to the opportunities that (its) rapid urbanisation, major infrastructure projects, rising incomes and increasing consumption create," said Mr Sam Cheong, managing director and head of the foreign direct investment advisory unit.

He mentioned that, increasingly, more companies are investing directly in Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar rather than setting up their regional headquarters in Singapore first.

Singapore-based Crestar Education Group (Crestar), which provides pre-school education, childcare services, child enrichment courses and adult education programmes, was one of the firms that UOB helped expand across the region.

PRIME MARKET

South-east Asia is an attractive investment destination due to the opportunities that (its) rapid urbanisation, major infrastructure projects, rising incomes and increasing consumption create.

MR SAM CHEONG, managing director and head of UOB's foreign direct investment advisory unit.

Crestar saw immense growth opportunities in Indonesia's early childhood education sector and UOB helped it to understand the intricacies of the market and streamline the process of setting up its business there last year.

While the region's outlook is positive - Asean gross domestic product is projected to expand from the current US$2.5 trillion (S$3.49 trillion) to US$8.1 trillion by 2030 - Mr Cheong noted that "cultural diversity can be challenging for companies to enter new markets".

"Each market has its own business and cultural practices that must be understood to ensure business success," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2017, with the headline 'UOB unit drives FDI worth over $27b in S-E Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe