3 Singapore companies making a splash in the US

Established in 1990 in Brownsville, Texas, Keppel AmFELS is an extension of Keppel Offshore & Marine’s near market near customer strategy and has grown to become the most well equipped offshore shipyard in the Gulf of Mexico. -- PHOTO: KEP
Established in 1990 in Brownsville, Texas, Keppel AmFELS is an extension of Keppel Offshore & Marine’s near market near customer strategy and has grown to become the most well equipped offshore shipyard in the Gulf of Mexico. -- PHOTO: KEPPEL

Singapore companies have been increasing their investments in the United States, the world's largest economy.

Direct investments by Singapore companies in the US have jumped more than 10 times in the last decade, from US$2.2 billion in 2003 to US$26.2 billion in 2012, according to figures from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

This made Singapore the third-largest Asia-Pacific investor in the US in 2012, behind Japan and Australia.

This trend was highlighted by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker when she met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday. Mr Lee is on a working visit to the United States this week.

In 2011, US subsidiaries of Singapore-owned companies employed 36,900 American workers and invested US$306 million in research and development activities in the US, according to SelectUSA, the federal agency promoting investment in the US.

We highlight some of the major Singapore companies making their presence felt in the US:

1. Keppel AmFels

A unit of Singapore's Keppel Corporation, Keppel AmFels is located in the Texan city of Brownsville, where it is the largest private employer with 2,500 workers.

The company is also the biggest offshore rig builder in the US, exporting high-value capital equipment to international oil companies and drilling companies.

2. VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering

A commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul provider, VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering is one of the largest employers in Mobile County, Alabama. Its employee payroll in 2010 reached US$80 million.

Part of Singapore's ST Engineering group, the company is reportedly in negotiations to open a satellite facility in Pensacola, Florida. Penascola officials estimate that the new facility will create at least 300 new jobs.

3. Crystal Jade

One of Singapore's best-known restaurant groups, Crystal Jade is poised to open its first US branch in San Francisco in California this year.

The restaurant will invest US$7 million in the project, which reflects the growing interest of Singapore's food and beverage businesses in the competitive and sophisticated US market.