Asian Development Bank to open new 'lean and focused' office in Singapore

Asian Development Bank president Takehiko Nakao arriving for the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28 2019.
Asian Development Bank president Takehiko Nakao arriving for the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

OSAKA - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will open an office in Singapore to support the expansion of its private sector operations, Singapore's Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Friday (June 28).

The office is expected to open in the second half of this year and will be a "lean and focused" outfit with 12 staff, including several from the ADB's Private Sector Operations Department and Office of Public-Private Partnership, an MOF statement said.

An agreement to establish the new office was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and ADB president Takehiko Nakao on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka.

The bank has estimated that developing Asia will need US$1.7 trillion (S$2.3 trillion) in infrastructure investments every year until 2030 to maintain the region's growth momentum. To meet this need, governments will need to work with multilateral development banks to make projects bankable and investible, in order to draw in private capital, Mr Heng said.

"We are happy that ADB sees value in tapping on Singapore's financial and services ecosystem, to catalyse the flow of private capital to meet the infrastructure needs in our region," he added. "Singapore looks forward to deepening our relationship with the ADB to help countries in the region realise their sustainable development goals."

Mr Nakao said that Singapore is well-suited to support the expansion of ADB's private sector operations as it is one of the world's leading financial and commercial hubs.

"Mobilising private sector money from markets such as Singapore helps us to bring the latest technologies and management skills to development projects across the region in the infrastructure and social sectors," he said.

ADB's private sector operations department covered 32 transactions last year, amounting to US$3.1 billion out of $21.6 billion in total commitments of loans and grants.

Under Strategy 2030, the bank's plan to respond to changing needs in the Asia-Pacific region, the number of private sector projects will increase to one-third of ADB's operations by 2024. It will also target $2.50 of long-term co-financing for every $1 of financing by 2030.

The bank's private sector operations will also strengthen support for frontier economies and expand operations in agriculture and social sectors such as health and education, in addition to renewable energy and other core infrastructure.

The Singapore office will help achieve this growth by making it easier to efficiently engage with its partners in the region, including project sponsors, international financial institutions, and professional service providers, MOF said.