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General

ECONOMIC NEWS

New Grant From MAS To Enhance Singapore's Position As Enterprise Financing Hub

Singapore  -  January 2019

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is launching a new SGD 75 million (USD 55 million) Grant for Equity Market Singapore (GEMS) in support of Singapore’s vision to serve as Asia’s centre for capital raising and enterprise financing. GEMS will be a three-year initiative to help enterprises seeking to raise capital through Singapore’s equity market.

The Grant will have three components:



  1. Listing Grant to facilitate enterprises seeking a listing on Singapore Exchange (SGX) by defraying part of their Initial Public Offering (IPO) costs;


  2. Research Talent Development Grant to strengthen Singapore’s research coverage of enterprises by grooming equity research talent; and 


  3. Research Initiatives Grant to support crowd-sourced initiatives to propel the development of Singapore’s equity research ecosystem.

Three categories of firms will be eligible for the listing grant. Enterprises in new technology sector which includes financial technologies, consumer digital technologies, on-demand services as well as gaming services & peripherals, with minimum market capitalisation of SGD 300 million, can receive co-funding of 70% of eligible listing expenses, with grant capped at SGD 1 million. Enterprises from high growth sectors with minimum market capitalisation of SGD 300 million will be eligible for co-funding of 20% of eligible listing expenses, with grant capped at SGD 500,000. The high growth sectors, identified in the Committee for Future Economy (CFE) report, are digital cluster, advanced manufacturing, hub services, logistics, urban solutions & infrastructure and healthcare. Other enterprises from all sectors, with no minimum market capitalization requirement, can receive co-funding 20% of eligible listing expenses, with grant capped at SGD 200,000.

The Research Talent Development Grant will co-fund 70% of the salaries for fresh graduates hired as equity research analysts and 50% of the salaries for re-employed experienced equity research analysts. This grant is for locals only. It aims to groom a pipeline of equity research analysts and retain experienced research talent to initiate research coverage primarily of listed mid and small-cap enterprises. 

The Research Initiatives Grant can cover initiatives such as publication of industry or sector primers, innovative ways to distribute research and disseminate enterprise information to investors. 

(Sources: Monetary Authority of Singapore; Business Times)

 

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Cyber security

ICT

Singapore Developing Cybersecurity Roadmap For Telecom Sector

Singapore  -  February 2019

A Telecom Cybersecurity Strategic Committee (TCSC), comprising international cybersecurity experts and representatives from the government and Singapore’s telecom operators are working on a roadmap for telecom sector cybersecurity, identifying cybersecurity threats to the telecom sector in the next five years and capabilities needed to counter these threats. The roadmap will identify areas for improvement in Singapore’s telecom cybersecurity capabilities, and recommend strategies, policies and initiatives with the objective of developing trusted, secure and resilient next-generation connectivity infrastructure, including 5G and narrowband Internet-of-Things (NB-IoT) sensor networks.. The first set of recommendations are expected to be published later this year. 

Government representatives on the TCSC include the heads of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Cyber Security Agency, and DSO (national defense research agency of Singapore), while the expert panel consists of a former head of the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the CEOs of Team 8 from Israel and US-based IronNet Cybersecurity. 

This was announced at  the inaugural Infocomm Media Cybersecurity Conference. IMDA also announced two additional initiatives to fortify Singapore’s infocomm sector. 

The first is the launch of the electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) implementation guide which will provide guidance to the industry on the management of security concerns in their deployment of eKYC solutions. The eKYC guide aims to make it more convenient for consumers to register for mobile services online in a trusted manner by enabling operators to digitally verify mobile services registrations securely without physical face-to-face transactions. The second is the launch of a public consultation on a cybersecurity guide for Internet of Things (IoT) systems, which seeks to promote best industry practices in mitigating cybersecurity risks for organisations looking to deploy such systems. 

(Sources: Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore; Business Times)

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Solar panel pv green energy

ENERGY

Sembcorp and Singapore Polytechnic Seek To Commercialize Technology For Recycling Solar...

Singapore  -  February 2019

Singapore-based utilities, marine and urban development group, Sembcorp Industries (Sembcorp), has entered into a partnership with Singapore Polytechnic (SP) to commercialize the first-ever technology in Singapore for photovoltaic recycling. The process developed locally by SP researchers recovers resources from used solar panels, such as glass, silicon, and metals including silver and aluminium. The two partners will work together to translate these solutions from laboratory to market, and accelerate plans to develop a pilot recycling plant for solar panels. Once the technology proves commercially viable, the pilot plant can serve as a potential prototype for larger-scale recycling of used solar panels in Singapore, and beyond.

Sembcorp and SP are also collaborating to jointly develop course curriculum at the polytechnic, internships, as well as continuing education programmes for managers, engineers and technicians working on solar projects. In the future, Sembcorp also plans to make this training a requirement for all contractors working on its solar power projects in Singapore.

Sembcorp is a leading solar power player in Singapore, with more than 120 megawatt peak of capacity in operation and under development here, across more than 1,500 sites. The company’s rooftop solar projects here are located on top of public housing blocks, schools, government sites, as well as private commercial and industrial facilities. Globally, Sembcorp has around 2,600 megawatts of wind and solar power projects across Singapore, China and India. Last year, the company unveiled its new Climate Change Strategy and outlined ambitious targets to double its renewables portfolio and reduce its carbon emission intensity by around 25% by 2022.

(Source: Sembcorp; Straits Times)

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Health insurance

MEDICAL

Singapore-Based Digital Healthcare Company Partners With AIA

Singapore  -  January 2019

Singapore-based digital managed care platform MyDoc is partnering with global insurance company, AIA, to create its first digitally integrated corporate health screening programme. MyDoc will digitally deliver health screening results of AIA Vitality members in Singapore from the AIA Vitality Basic Health Check (BHS) identifies members’ risk for chronic disease by checking their body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. AIA Vitality members who complete their health screening through MyDoc will receive Vitality points of up to 6,000 if their results are within the healthy ranges.

MyDoc is part of Singapore’s Ministry of Health's (MOH) regulatory sandbox for telemedicine, that allows the safe development of new and innovative healthcare models to be piloted in a controlled environment.. MyDoc has shown a reduction in patient healthcare costs by at least 16% according to a study done by a senior economist at the University of Southern California’s Center for Economic and Social Research. It demonstrated a potential cost saving of up to 28% resulting from improvements in chronic diseases management and aversion of accident and emergency (A&E) services.

MyDoc has conducted successful and ongoing implementations with the largest insurers and Fortune 500 companies in In Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, including AIA, Aetna, and Cigna. 

(Source: MyDoc; Enterprise Innovation)

 

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Water   wastewater treatment2

ENVIRONMENT

Trial Project Takes Singapore Closer To Energy Self-Sufficiency In Used Water Treatment

Singapore  -  February 2019

Singapore’s National Water Agency, PUB, and the country's National Environment Agency (NEA) completed a two-year trial started in December 2016 to co-digest food waste and used water sludge for higher energy generation. Water reclamation plants in Singapore currently use waste water sludge to generate biogas, which then provides part of the energy required to power the plant. 

The trial project found that the biogas yield from co-digestion of used water sludge and food waste is triple of the biogas generated from the digestion of used water sludge alone. When compared to the separate digestion of used water sludge and food waste, the biogas yield from co-digestion is 40% more.​​

As part of the trial, up to 40 tonnes of used water sludge and food waste from 23 premises were treated daily at the facility. The mixture of used water sludge and food waste then undergoes anaerobic digestion, a biological process that breaks down organic materials in the absence of oxygen, to produce biogas for energy generation. The results demonstrate the possibility of making the used water treatment process in water reclamation plants more energy self-sufficient and achieve greater synergy by co-locating the facilities of used water sludge and food waste treatment. This will be implemented at the new Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) and Tuas Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) - collectively known as the Tuas Nexus – which are scheduled to be completed in 2025. 

This will also help in dealing with Singapore's second largest waste stream of food waste, of which only 16% is currently recycled, well below Singapore’s overall recycling rate of about 60%. 

(Sources: PUB; Channel NewsAsia)

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Construction3

INFRASTRUCTURE

Sustained Public Sector Demand To Support Construction In Singapore For 2019

Singapore  -  February 2019

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) of Singapore is projecting that the total construction demand (value of construction contracts to be awarded) in 2019 will range between SGD 27 billion (USD 20 billion) and SGD 32 billion (USD 23.5 billion), compared to the preliminary estimate of SGD 30.5 billion  (USD 22.4 billion) worth of contracts awarded in 2018.

The projections are supported by sustained public sector construction demand, which is expected to reach between SGD 16.5 billion (USD 12 billion) and SGD 19.5 billion (USD 14.3 billion) in 2019, contributing to about 60% of the projected demand for this year. Public construction demand is expected to be boosted by major infrastructure projects and a pipeline of major industrial building projects.

The private sector’s construction demand is expected to remain steady at between SGD 10.5 billion (USD 7.7 billion) and SGD 12.5 billion (USD 9.2 billion) in 2019, supported by projects including the redevelopment of past en-bloc sales sites concluded prior to the second half of 2018 and new industrial developments.

Construction demand in 2018 was within forecast due to strong demand from institutional building and civil engineering projects, continued positive growth in the manufacturing sector and more private residential redevelopment projects from en-bloc sales in 2017 and the first half of 2018. 

BCA expects a steady improvement in construction demand over the medium term. Demand is projected to reach between S$27 billion and S$34 billion per year for 2020 and 2021 and could increase to between SGD 28 billion (USD 20.6 billion) and SGD 35 billion (USD 25.7 billion) per year for 2022 and 2023. The public sector is expected to contribute SGD 16 billion (USD 11.8 billion) to SGD 20 billion (USD 14.7 billion) per year from 2020 to 2023 with similar proportions of demand coming from building projects and civil engineering works, driven by public residential developments and big infrastructure projects such as the Cross Island Line, developments at Jurong Lake District and Changi Airport Terminal. 

(Sources: Building and Construction Authority, Singapore; Straits Times)

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Factory inside steel

MANUFACTURING

Singapore Launches First Half 2019 Industrial Government Land Sales Program

Singapore  -  January 2019

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) of Singapore has launched its Industrial Government Land Sales (IGLS) programme for the first half of 2019 (1H 2019). There will be 5 sites in the Confirmed List and 7 sites in the Reserve List, with a total site area of 11.86 ha (118,600 sq m). This is slightly lower than the total site area of 12.59 ha for the previous launch in the second half of  2018. Under the Reserve List, the Government puts up a site for tender if an interested party submits an application with an offer of a minimum purchase price that is acceptable to the Government; or if there is sufficient market interest in the form of more than one unrelated party submitting minimum purchase prices that are close to the Government’s Reserve Price for the site within a reasonable period.

These plots are zoned as B2, which means that these areas can be used for clean industry, light industry, general industry, warehouse, public utilities and telecommunication uses and other public installations.

Previously, in December 2018, logistics group Logos signed a long-term sale-and-leaseback agreement with solar panel company REC for an undisclosed amount in Singapore’s largest single-asset industrial transaction of 2018. The deal involves 150,000 sq m of space, on a 25-hectare site in Tuas South. The property is located next to the future Tuas Mega Port which when completed by 20203, will handle all of Singapore’s container activities and handle up to 65 million standard-sized containers. 

(Sources: Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore; Straits Times; Singapore Business Review)

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Airport terminal

DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Singapore Airlines Launches Digital Innovation Lab

Singapore  -  February 2019

On 29 January 2019, Singapore Airlines launched its new digital innovation lab, called KrisLab, in line with the Airline’s Digital Innovation Blueprint which was launched in 2018. Under the Blueprint, SIA is working to develop and nurture the digital aviation and travel technology community in Singapore, through collaborative partnerships with organisations such as the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), National University of Singapore (NUS) and other partners, along with support from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Technology such as blockchain, mixed reality devices, artificial intelligence and data analytics, among others, are used and explored at the lab as part of the airline's digital initiatives to enhance operations and overall customer experience. Examples of areas being explored include revenue management, smart seats, virtual training, and predictive maintenance for aircraft. One of the innovations being explored at KrisLab involves the use of virtual reality technology to allow our designers to step on board and explore or change future cabin design concepts quickly. This is one of the many initiatives the Airline is exploring to enhance operations and overall customer experience.

Staff can submit ideas and solutions for evaluation by the Digital Innovation Lab team based on technological and implementation readiness, as well as market and strategic attractiveness. If an idea is approved, seed funding along with expertise provided by the Digital Innovation Lab team is provided to help further develop it into a prototype, before moving to the implementation stage.



(Sources: Singapore Airlines; Straits Times)

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Luxury brands

RETAIL / FMCG

Luxury Shopping Destination In Singapore Sees Record Revenues In 2018

Singapore  -  February 2019

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands witnessed its most successful year ever in 2018, with revenues of USD 179 million, a 7% rise from 2017. Retail tenant sales at The Shoppes,which enjoys an occupancy of 95.4%, jumped 19% to USD 1,898 per square foot compared to the preceding year. The Shoppes also retained its top position in tourism shopping, representing an estimated 25% of the tax-free tourist market in Singapore. This is based on industry metrics that track tax-refunded tourist receipts. 

This performance of the luxury shopping destination comes in the midst of struggles for most brick-and-mortar retail, in the face of competition from e-commerce. 

A press release from Marina Bay Sands attributed the success to an ongoing retail remix strategy that started in 2012, which saw the mall double its footprint with luxury brands in the form of duplexes, as well as expansion into luxury childrenswear. This strategy was coupled with other attractions such as late-night shopping, in-store exclusives, and one of the most generous loyalty programmes in Singapore, has resulted in 120,000 shoppers walking through the doors of the mall daily. 

There are plans to unveil several new-to-market brands, expansions, and luxury flagship stores in the first half of 2019. Following the recent opening of Moncler’s flagship duplex and biggest store in APAC; as well as the expansion of luxury fashion house Hermès from a single unit to a duplex store, Philipp Plein will launch its biggest store in South East Asia this quarter at the Shoppes. These new additions will bring the mall’s total number of luxury duplexes to 17. Other brands joining The Shoppes this year include new-to-market Italian luxury shoe label Gianvito Rossi with its first standalone store in Southeast Asia, and French designer label Roger Vivier’s Singapore flagship store. Delvaux, one of the world’s oldest fine leather luxury goods purveyors, has also just unveiled its second boutique in Singapore, ahead of a host of new openings including COS, Lululemon, Polo Ralph Lauren and SK Gold. Italian fashion brands Loro Piana, Stefano Ricci, luxury Japanese pearl company Mikimoto, and French High Jewellery Maison Van Cleef & Arpels will expand their presence at the Shoppes.

(Sources: Business Times; Marina Bay Sands)

Malaysia

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Finance report graph

ECONOMIC NEWS

Cautious Economic Growth Anticipated For Malaysia In 2019

Malaysia  -  January 2019

Malaysia is expected to experience slower growth in 2019, in anticipation of global trade uncertainties which would affect the trade flows to the region. While the government is more optimistic with 4.9% of GDP forecasted, consensus GDP growth forecast from Bloomberg data is milder at 4.6%. The World Bank on the other hand predicted that Malaysia’s real GDP will be 4.6% going into 2020, from 5.9% in 2017 and 4.7% in 2018 as well as in 2019.

Economists cited several downside risks pertinent to the cautious GDP estimates, including policy uncertainties, geopolitical tensions, volatile commodity prices, ongoing trade pressures and monetary policy normalization in the US. Nevertheless several measures announced in Budget 2019 are expected to sustain domestic demand, which in turn will remain supportive of the economy despite the expected slower export growth. The measures include increase in minimum wage, continuation of cash assistance and several instruments planned to ease the public’s burden from rising costs of living, which should encourage consumer spending. Households are expected to remain financially strong amid steady household earnings, positive employment outlook and steady commodity prices, on top of accommodative financing conditions and strong financial buffers to service debt commitments.

In addition to domestic demand, private investment is also expected to support the growth. Private businesses will benefit from the government’s decision to repay MYR 37 billion (USD 9 billion) of tax refunds and continuation of several infrastructure projects from the previous administration, which could lead to new investment and expansion activities by private sector.  

(Sources: The Edge Markets; The Malaysian Reserve; The World Bank)

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Crypto currency bitcoin

ICT

Malaysia to Regulate ICOs, Cryptocurrency Trade

Malaysia  -  February 2019

Malaysia is set to regulate crypto transactions such as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and other cryptocurrency trades. The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) amended its Guidelines on Recognized Markets on 31 January, 2019 to introduce new requirements for electronic platforms that facilitate the trading of digital assets. Under the revised guidelines, any person who is interested in operating a digital asset platform is required to apply to the SC to be registered as a recognized market operator. Those involved in illegal ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges could face hefty jail time and fines by the SC. The amended guidelines follow the coming into force of the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019on 15 January 2019. 

Local blockchain industry players such as Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Fintech Association of Malaysia (FAOM) have reacted positively towards the new rulings by the SC.  However, they feel that the framework can be more forward-looking to include appropriate control measures on blockchain transactions.

The revised guidelines categorise crypto exchanges as Digital Asset Exchange Operators. The summary of requirements to operate a digital asset platform, including those operating within the current transitional period, are as follows:


  1. Offerors must put up a MYR 5 million (USD 1.2 million) minimum paid capital upon approval and prior to commencement of crypto exchanges.  This minimum paid capital is subject to additional financial requirements on a case by case basis based on the operations and risks to investors posed by the exchange.

  2. There is restriction on providing financial assistance to investors/customers for the purposes of purchasing cryptocurrencies/digital assets

  3. A robust risk management system needs to be put in place to ensure a high degree of security and reliability.

  4. Cryptocurrencies and digital assets have to be approved by SC prior to listing on the stock exchange

  5. There has to be clear rules and procedures in place for the trading, clearing and settlement of digital assets

  6. Players must provide clear, concise and fair disclosures that are not misleading to investors

  7. Trade of digital assets can only be carried out using Ringgit Malaysia and other legal tenders.

  8. Offerors must establish one or more trust account in a licensed financial institution in Malaysia.

Under the revised guidelines, any person who is interested in operating a digital asset platform is required to apply to the SC to be registered as a recognized market operator by 1 March 2019. The full details of the guidelines are available at https://www.sc.com.my/regulation/guidelines/recognizedmarkets.

Meanwhile, the guidelines for ICOs are expected to be released by end of March 2019.

(Sources: Business Insider – Malaysia;The FinTech News; NewsBTC; Securities Commission Malaysia)

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Power transmission electricity energy

ENERGY

Sarawak Energy, Shell MDS To Explore Hydrogen Production In Sarawak

Malaysia  -  January 2019

The Sarawak state-owned energy company, Sarawak Energy Bhd (Sarawak Energy) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Shell MDS (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Shell MDS) to explore opportunities in lower-cost hydrogen production technology via electrolysis. The MoU includes a joint study by the two parties and knowledge exchange on hydrogen production technology, promoting education and drawing up best practices in the area. It also includes exploring opportunities for green certification in hydrogen production.

This MoU is a follow-up to the pilot hydrogen production plant and refuelling station project by Sarawak Energy which is scheduled to be ready in time for a test run of three hydrogen-powered buses by the first quarter of 2019. 

The pilot facility, the first such plant in South East Asia, lays the foundation for research on the commercial viability of a hydrogen economy for Sarawak through the production, delivery, storage and utilisation of this ‘fuel of the future’.

Sarawak’s renewable hydropower stands at 75% of the state’s power generation mix currently. Promoting renewable hydropower is in line with the state’s aspiration to use less carbon-based energy, given that producing hydrogen from the grid will be less fossil-fuel intensive.

(Sources: The New Straits Times; The Borneo Post; Sarawak Energy)

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Medical devices   surgical instruments

MEDICAL

Healthy Growth Projected For Medical Device Export In 2019

Malaysia  -  January 2019

Exports of medical devices from Malaysia is expected to cross MYR 23 billion (USD 5.6 billion) in 2019, with the Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI) projecting exports to achieve 8% year-on-year growth. In 2017 AMMI members recorded a combined export sales of MYR 11.4 billion (USD 2.8 billion) compared to MYR 9.7 billion (USD 2.4 billion) in 2016. This brings the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the export sales to a healthy 16.3% between 2013 and 2017, beating most global indices in the sector. A strong national medical devices manufacturers association, AMMI members contributed to 58% of the country’s total exports of all Made in Malaysia medical devices including medical glove.

In a recent survey involving 46 AMMI members, 74% of them said they are planning to expand their operation in terms of buildings, machinery, equipment, facilities and product lines. The projected value of the probable future expansion plans when combined was about MYR 1.5 billion (USD 360 million). As of December 2017, the total value of cumulative investments reported by the members responded to the survey mounted to MYR 7 billion (USD 1.7 billion), up from MYR 3.4 billion (USD 830 million) in 2013. Collective yearly investments also soared to MYR 967.9 million (USD 235.5 million) in 2017 from MYR 215.2 million (USD 52.36 million) in 2013. The findings of the survey are recorded in AMMI’s Medical Device Industry Status and Outlook Report 2018/2019.

According to the survey the on-going trade war between the United States and China is not expected to worsen the market for Malaysian exports of medical devices. On the contrary, the situation is expected to benefit local manufacturers. Around 50% of AMMI members were hopeful of achieving double-digit growth in 2019. Malaysia is predicted to keep growing as a hub for medical device manufacturing in the region with the presence of over 200 medical device manufacturing companies in the country flourishing within a supportive ecosystem in the industry.

(Sources: The Star; Malaysian Investment Development Authority)

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Biofuel

ENVIRONMENT

Diesel Vehicles In Malaysia To Use 10% Palm Oil Biodiesel

Malaysia  -  January 2019

Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has launched the B10 Biodiesel Programme for all diesel vehicles in the transportation industry starting from 1 February 2019. Fuel mix for these vehicles will soon comprise 10% palm oil biodiesel and 90% fossil diesel. The use of 10% palm oil biodiesel in Malaysia for vehicles such as four-wheel-drive vehicles, lorries and buses will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

The mandatory usage of B10 is foreseen to strengthen the domestic demand for palm oil, thus, stabilising the supply of palm oil stocks.  This is expected to increase the revenue of some 650,000 palm oil smallholders in Malaysia.

Malaysia first initiated mandatory use of palm oil biodiesel for diesel vehicles in 2011 with the B5 Biodiesel Programme.  The programme entailed the use of 5% blending of palm oil biodiesel (which was later increased to 7 percent) with 95% fossil diesel for the transportation sector fuel mix in 2014. The government plans to introduce B20 Biodiesel to the fuel mix by 2020.

(Sources: The Star; The Edge Markets)

 

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Industrial park3

INFRASTRUCTURE

Negeri Sembilan CM Unveils Development Plan For Malaysia Vision Valley 2.0

Malaysia  -  January 2019

A comprehensive development plan (CDP) for Malaysia Vision Valley 2.0 (MVV 2.0) was launched by the Chief Minister of the state of Negeri Sembilan on 13 December, 2018. MVV 2.0 is a state-led private sector-driven development that spans across 153,411 ha in Seremban and Port Dickson, the largest towns in the state.

The CDP defines the growth development plan for MVV 2.0, aims to bring in international and local investors, creating job and business opportunities. As the master developer of MVV 2.0, Sime Darby is planning for the development of a high-tech and industrial park, which is among six projects identified under the first phase.

Sime Darby Property currently owns 2,838 acres within MVV 2.0 and has the option to acquire another 8,796 acres from Sime Darby Bhd, its parent company, within five years from the date of the public listing of the former. The first phase of MVV 2.0 spans over a 30-year development period covering 27,000 acres.

A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed between the state government, through MVV Secretariat (MVVS) and MVV Holdings Sdn. Bhd. (MVVHSB), a subsidiary of Sime Darby Property in relation to the preliminary development stages of MVV 2.0. Also, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Malaysia Green Technology Corporation and the state government via MVVS. Based on the MoU, the parties will collaborate in the implementation in delivering green concepts and green technology enablers for the MVV 2.0 project.

(Sources : The Edge Markets; The Sun Daily; Sime Darby Property)

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Cologne central station railway station train 163580

MANUFACTURING

Malaysia Aims to Become ASEAN Train Equipment Manufacturing Hub

Malaysia  -  January 2019

The Malaysian government is keen to position its self as the rail equipment manufacturing hub in the ASEAN region based on a strong partnership with China, according to recent comments from the Transport Minister. The Transport Minister invited further investments from largest train maker in China, Railway Rolling Stock Corp (CRRC) to meet the requirement of new train sets for railway projects around the country. 

Examples of ongoing/ upcoming projects include Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking, and light rail transit 3 (LRT3). The completion of the Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double-track rail project will be part of the wider west coast electrified track system (ETS) in four years’ time. The MYR 8.9 billion Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking project involves the construction of 197 km of double tracks, stations, electric trains, depots, land viaduct, bridges, and electrification and signalling systems.

CRRC’s rolling stock plant in Batu Gajah, Perak was established in 2015 with an estimated cost of USD 97 million,and it is the first and sole train manufacturing centre in the ASEAN region. Over 85% of employees at the plant are Malaysian. This plant currently has the capacity to assemble 200 train cars per year solely meant for the Malaysian market, supplying to Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd.

But the potential expansion could double its capacity and the plant could start exporting.  ASEAN countries most are looking to develop their transportation systems resulting in a strong demand for LRT, metro, suburban rail, locomotive and cargo trains.

(Source: The Edge Prop; Malaysian Reserve)

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Airport

DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Malaysian Authorities Seeking Proposals To Rejuvenate Subang Airport

Malaysia  -  January 2019

The Star Newspaper reported recently that Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has initiated a request for proposals (RFP) from local and global consultancies in a bid to rejuvenate the Subang Airport. The consultancy firms that are selected will be appointed as the master planner for the concept and design of the project covering a 1,063 -acre site. As of mid-December 2018,  about 15 local and multinational consultancies firm had obtained RFP documents and proposals were expected to be submitted by the end of December.

Subang International Airport served as Kuala Lumpur's main airport from 1965 to 1998, before the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was opened. The airport currently mostly serves smaller turboprop planes on domestic flights. 

The regeneration of Subang Airport is estimated to cost in the range of USD 360 to 600 million and the completion of the project could take up to 10 years, depending on the approved concept and design. There will be three parts of the project, including remodelling a part of Subang Airport as a business aviation hub, establishing a city airport by expanding and enhancing existing terminal and air site facilities, as well as setting up a complete aerospace ecosystem to bolster the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector and aircraft manufacturing.

Around 60-acres (0.24 sq km) from the 1,063-acre (4.3 sq km) land, will be convert into green field site close to Subang Skypark, which MAHB is transforming into an aerospace park valued at around USD 98 million.

The Subang Airport’s new terminal will increase capacity from the current three million passengers to five million, once it is competed. It is also expected to generate 5,000 employment opportunities and attract more than USD 250 million in investments by 2025.

(Source: The Star Online; Property Guru)

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Food consumer

RETAIL / FMCG

DKSH Buys Auric Pacific's Singapore and Malaysia FMCG Distribution Business

Malaysia  -  January 2019

Swiss company, DKSH signed an agreement in December 2018 to acquire the consumer goods distribution business of Auric Pacific in Singapore and Malaysia for an initial price of USD 160 million, to complement its existing fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market expansion services. 

DKSH helps business partners grow by providing a complete range of specialized services along the value chain: from sourcing, market analysis and research, marketing and sales to distribution and logistics and after-sales services. Auric Pacific also operates as Market Expansion Services provider of fast moving consumer goods in Singapore and Malaysia. Auric's product portfolio includes more than 150 brands. The company also serves the food service channel for hotels, restaurants and cafés and owns two consumer brands (SCS and Buttercup) including production. With around 420 specialists, the Market Expansion Services provider distributes products to some 4,400 customers in Singapore and Malaysia.

The consumer goods distribution business of Auric Pacific generates net sales of around USD 185 million with an operating profit (EBIT) of approximately USD 14 million. The acquisition is supposed to create enhanced scale and synergies and DKSH expects the acquisition to be immediately earnings accretive. The existing management team of the business and employees will join DKSH and will be part of DKSH's Business Unit Consumer Goods.

(Source: The Edge; News Beezer)

Indonesia

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Agreement handshake

ECONOMIC NEWS

Indonesia And European Free Trade Association Sign Trade Deals

Indonesia  -  January 2019

Indonesia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 16 December 2018. The agreement was reached between Indonesia and the EFTA countries – Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland – after eight years of negotiations. The discussion on market access for Indonesia’s palm oil to EFTA countries was the main concern in the delayed negotiations.

The CEPA provides market access of goods from Indonesia and EFTA, as well as increase economic cooperation and investments between the countries. Through EFTA, Indonesia will obtain market access in terms of:


  • Goods: Fishery, textile, furniture, bicycle, electronic, tire, coffee, palm oil, agricultural products and palm oil.

  • Services: Intra-corporate trainees, contract service suppliers, independent professionals and young professionals of the EFTA.

  • Investment: Energy, mining, machineries, agriculture, infrastructure, fisheries, forestry and chemical industry.

In addition, Indonesia will receive opportunities in cooperation and capacity building in fisheries and marine, export promotion and tourism, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), cocoa, sustainability, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and vocational education.

According to the data by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), trade between Indonesia and EFTA reached USD 2.4 billion, while investment of EFTA to Indonesia stood at USD 621 million. Indonesia’s exports to EFTA include jewelry, optical devices, gold, telephone devices and essential oils. Indonesia imports gold, turbo jet machines, medicines, fertilizers and raw industrial materials from EFTA.

(Sources: The Jakarta Post; Nikkei Asian Review)

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Tv gaming ict

ICT

Filipino Organization Invests USD 2 Million In Indonesia's Esports Scene

Indonesia  -  January 2019

Filipino esports organization, Mineski, is pouring USD 2 million in the Indonesian esports market in 2019, betting on the country’s ranking as the second-largest gaming market in Southeast Asian. The esports industry in Indonesia is set to reach USD 879.7 million this year.

To grow Indonesia’s esports scene, Mineski plans to leverage all its three main business units: Mineski Infinity, Mineski Events Team (MET) and Mineski Professional Team. The USD 2 million investment will be coming through MET Indonesia to improve the country’s competition and esports’ infrastructure. The company has also unveiled plans to host multiple esports tournaments in Indonesia, such as the Garuda Garuda Cup, the Indonesia Professional Gaming League and Dota 2’s Jakarta Masters.

Mineski has existing relationships with one of the Indonesia’s biggest telecommunications provider, Telkomsel, and two e-commerce unicorns, Go-Jek and Tokopedia. It is looking to build upon the partnership to strengthen its presence in Indonesia.

(Sources: Esports Insider; Fox Sports Asia; Esports Observer)

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Offshore platform oil gas

ENERGY

Indonesian Energy Ministry Approves Merakes Development Project

Indonesia  -  January 2019

In December 2018, the Minister of Energy of Indonesia approved Eni’s investment plan for the Merakes project, located in Kutei Basin, offshore East Kalimantan. Eni is an Italian multinational oil and gas company operating in 71 countries worldwide.

The Merakes development project consists of drilling and construction of subsea walls with a dedicated transport system in water depths of up to 1,500 metres and connected to the Jangkrik Floating Production Unit (FPU). The gas will then be shipped to the Bontang LNG plant using existing facilities. This new production will contribute to the life extension of the plant and help meet EWQ1`EWDthe ongoing gas demand in Indonesia.

Eni also successfully drilled and tested the Merakes East prospect in East Sepinggan block, located 3 kilometers east of the Merakes Field. The proximity of this new discovery will allow Eni to maximize the synergies among the subsea infrastructures, as well as save time and cost of the execution of the future subsea development. Eni is the operator of East Sepinggan Contract Area through its subsidiary Eni East Sepinggan Limited which holds an 85% Participating Interest, while PT Pertamina Hulu Energi East Sepinggan holds the remaining 15%. 

The Eni BoD approval came just a few days after the conversion to the Gross Split Scheme of the East Sepinggan PSC (Production Sharing Contract) and the approval of the revised field development plan under the terms of the Gross Split by the Minister of Energy of Indonesia. Eni has agreed to use Gross Split Production Sharing Cost (PSC) scheme to develop the gas field as opposed to conventional cost recovery. The gross split PSC, which removes the cost recovery element, with all production directly split between the government and the participants, was introduced in late 2016 to stimulate investment in upstream oil and gas in Indonesia, by streamlining the regulation of the sector. 

(Sources: Offshore Engineer; Kallanish Energy; Eni)

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Doctor medical technology mobile

MEDICAL

Indonesian Health Tech Startup Gorry Holdings Secures Fresh Funding

Indonesia  -  January 2019

Jakarta-based health tech startup, Gorry Holdings, has successfully raised funding from Singapore’s private equity firm, Heritas Capital Management, for an undisclosed amount. The funding will be utilized to create new services and speed up expansion across Indonesia.

The startup has invested in analytics, big data capabilities and machine learning to support its two platforms: GorryWell and Gorry Gourmet. GorryWell offers a one-stop digital wellness platform, taking in users’ health biometrics and offering recommendations which include food journal, calorie intake, deficit tracker, activity tracker and daily activity challenge. Gorry Gourmet offers nutritionist-approved food subscription. The meals are catered to individual’s needs ranging from weight loss, muscle gain, pregnancy and special needs.

The company is also working closely with the government, becoming an official partner of the Indonesia’s Ministry of Health (MOH)’s National Health Campaign Initiative. It is also developing “HealthyChoice” label for restaurants that meet the requirements, ased on ingredients and macronutrient data. 

Indonesia’s health tech is set to be the next unicorn farm with big potential. Currently, the key players are Halodoc, Alodokter and PesanLab. The Indonesian government is also supporting the movement by allocating 5% of the state budget to facilitate tech-based health services.

(Sources: KrAsia; Deal Street Asia)

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Recycling

ENVIRONMENT

Jakarta Plans To Fine Retailers For Single Use Plastic Bags

Indonesia  -  January 2019

According to a report in the Jakarta Post, Governor Anies Baswedan is drafting a gubernatorial regulation to ban single-use plastic bags in Jakarta. The draft would come into effect in January 2019.

Once the regulation is legalized, the Jakarta Environment Agency will organize an awareness campaign on the ban of plastic bags for the first six months. Afterwards, retailers, plastic producers and merchants that still issue single-use plastic bags will be fined between IDR 5 – 25 million (USD 350 – 1,750).

Around 14% of waste produced in Jakarta daily are plastics and 1% of the plastics are non-degradable, single-use plastic bags. The Jakarta Environment Agency has been promoting environmentally friendly bags at retailers and traditional markets and started exchanging plastic bags with green bags.

In December 2018, the popular tourist island of Bali in Indonesia banned single-use plastics like shopping bags, styrofoam and straws 

(Source: The Jakarta Post)

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Bridge

INFRASTRUCTURE

Indonesian Government Opens Six Weighbridge Revitalization Projects

Indonesia  -  January 2019

The Indonesian Transportation Ministry presented six weighbridge revitalization projects worth IDR 330.66 billion (USD 22.80 million). The projects will comprise of three weighbridges in Sumatra – Muara Tembesi (Jambi), Merapi (South Sumatra) and Blambangan Umpu (Lampung) – and three others in Java – Tanjung and Subah (Central Java) as well as Guyangan (East Java).

The Indonesian government invites the private sector to join the pilot projects, which will be financed through the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme. A 15-year contract for the companies will be issued with investors required to design, finance, build and maintain the weighbridges for a specified period of time in accordance to regulations. Through the state-owned infrastructure financing guarantee company, PT Penjaminan Infrastruktur Indonesia (PII), the ministry would give guarantees for the investors in all six projects.

Currently, the ministry is in the midst of checking the weighbridges’ condition. The tender prequalification will be carried out in the middle of 2019.

(Source: Jakarta Post)

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Semiconductor production

MANUFACTURING

iPhone Assembler Considering Setting Up Plant In Indonesia

Indonesia  -  January 2019

Pegatron Corp, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer that assembles iPhones, is considering to set up a plant on Batam Island, Riau Islands. If confirmed, the investment is estimated to be worth USD 1 billion. It will also employ 8,000 to 10,000 workers in the rented factory.

Currently, Indonesia is competing against Vietnam and Thailand to secure the investment. Once Pegatron has made the decision, the company would need two quarters to move, install and certify equipment before the plant can be fully operational.

Batam was considered as a viable choice, considering the island's position in a free-trade zone in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle. It is also strategically located near Singapore.

This move has been prompted by the trade war between the US and China, and the fear of US tariffs on products manufactured in China. Other companies have also indicated  that they might move away production from China include another iPhone assembler, Wistron, Apple Watch makers, Quanta Computer and Compal and AirPods maker, Inventec. In January 2019, Wistron authorized its subsidiary in India to spend USD 341 million to expand operations in the country, which include assembly of the iPhone SE and iPhone 6S for the local market.

(Sources: Apple Insider; AsiaNews; The Jakarta Post; Nikkei Asian Review)

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Military helicopter2

DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Indonesian Defense Ministry Procuring Helicopters Worth USD 513 Million

Indonesia  -  January 2019

State-owned aircraft manufacturer, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI), and the Defense Ministry have signed a contract to purchase eight H225M Cougar helicopters and nine Bell 412EPI helicopters. The deal is estimated to be worth USD 330 million and USD 183 million respectively. The Cougar helicopters are a product of cooperation between PT DI and Airbus Helicopters, France. Bell helicopters is sourced from Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Canada.

The procurement was made under the discretion of President Joko Widodo to be used for natural disaster management. The Cougar helicopter will be used as transportation for Indonesian Air Force in disaster affected areas, meanwhile the Bell helicopters will be given to the Indonesian Army Force. The procurement of the Cougar helicopters is to be completed within 24 months, while the Bell helicopters are going to take 36 months in consideration of limited production capacity of the company of 10 units per year.

Subsequently, the ministry is looking to acquire a special aircraft to address forest fires. The purchase is expected to be carried out this year.

(Source: Tempo)

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Department store

RETAIL / FMCG

Aeon Partners With Go-Jek To Speed Up Retail Expansion

Indonesia  -  January 2019

Japanese retail group, Aeon, has partnered with Indonesian ride-hailing startup, Go-Jek, on digital payment and home delivery services. Started in mid-December, the partnership aims to accelerate Aeon’s overseas expansion. Under the new strategy, Aeon will utilize Go-Jek’s Go-Pay cashless payments and provide home deliveries with Go-Jek drivers.

Currently, Aeon has two large shopping centers in Indonesia and three new outlets are planned to be opened after the 2019 business year. Aeon is combining its brics-and-mortar stores and technology-driven services to keep up with changing customers’ attitudes. Go-Jek provides flexibility using motorbikes delivery, without Aeon having to build out their own logistics network.

Go-Jek hopes its partnership with Aeon will drive its presence in South East Asia, as it is expanding to Vietnam and later to Thailand and the Philippines. Both Aeon and Go-Jek plan to cooperate in other markets besides Indonesia.

(Source: Nikkei Asian Review)

Thailand

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Construction

ECONOMIC NEWS

Thailand Seeking Chinese Investment For EEC

Thailand  -  January 2019

Under the Thai government’s economic agenda, Rayong, and two other neighbouring provinces, Chonburi and Chachoengsao will form the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Stretching a total area of 13,000 square kilometres, it is expected that the EEC will be an arterial node for trade, investment, and regional transportation, besides also serving as a strategic gateway to this region. The EEC is slated to attract approcimately USD 46 billion in investments which is projected to push Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth by five percent annually by 2020.

To ensure the success of the EEC, Bangkok is relying heavily on foreign direct investments, in particular those from China, and public-private partnerships, and it is relaxing certain laws and regulations to facilitate and encourage foreign investors looking to invest in the EEC’s initiatives. In November, the Deputy Prime Minister led government officials and 65 Thai private companies to Shanghai to promote the EEC. 

In January 2019 it was revealed that the total amount of investment promotion application in 2018 exceeded the original target by 25%. Investment applications in the EEC accounted for more than THB 680 billion (USD 21 billion). Largest-scale investment projects have been in the areas of petrochemical and electrical vehicle (EV) production. In 2018, the BOI received 1,626 investment applications projects with a total value of THB 902 billion (USD 28 billion). Both the application number and the investment value were higher than those in 2017, by 3% and 43%, respectively.

(Sources: Board of Investment of Thailand; China Dialogue; The ASEAN Post)

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Data security keyboard computer

ICT

Digital ID In Thailand Entering Test Phase

Thailand  -  January 2019

Thailand's national digital ID service is expected to be available to the public in the next 3-5 months after undergoing testing. The system is intended to enhance digital security to facilitate online transactions, and enable greater access to bank accounts and lending.

It provides banks with facial recognition and blockchain-powered identity authentication technology. The ID is expected to boost availability of loans at attractive interest rates, based on borrowers' risk profiles assessed using data analytics. 

The Digital Government Development Agency, the Bank of Thailand, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Revenue Department have all worked with a national ID team on the system, and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has also begun working with the team.

Tthe initial phase will need monitoring to prevent fraud, but if there is more collaboration among government agencies, the Provincial Administration Department in particular, the system will be strengthened. 

(Sources: Bangkok Post; Biometrics Research)

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Gas energy home fire

ENERGY

Greater Reliance On Natural Gas in Thailand's Latest Power Plan

Thailand  -  January 2019

Thailand’s government has reconfirmed its commitment to gas in its new Power Development Plan (PDP), which sets a target for gas to generate 53% of the country’s power in 2037. This is an increase from 30-40% in the previous PDP published in 2015, and indicates the country will become increasingly reliant on imported gas, as domestic production declines. Consequently, the Electricity Generating Authority Thailand (EGAT) has turned its back on coal-fired power plants in southern Thailand.

EGAT would instead focus more on power plants that burn natural gas, with Surat Thani named as the site for construction of two such facilities. Each of these would generate 700 megawatts of electricity into the national grid system, the first in 2027 and the second by 2029.

The just-released draft 2018 Power Development Plan (PDP) calls for the government to invite the private sector to invest in a 1,000-megawatt “independent power producer” (IPP) project that would start generating electricity in 2034.

Energy experts believe southern Thailand should have at least one major coal-fired power plant so that there is diversity among fuels used for generating electricity, which would favourably affect prices and help guarantee power security.

(Sources: Interfax; The Nation)

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Health insurance

MEDICAL

Thailand May Become the Worlds Powerhouse of Medical Marijuana

Thailand  -  January 2019

Thailand is on the brink of becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to legalize medical marijuana, hoping to become a powerhouse in a globally exploding market. In the global rush to legalize marijuana, cannabis companies are looking for less expensive locations to mass-produce the cash crop. With its good growing climate and as a hub for shipping and medicine, Thailand is viewed as a suitable low-cost place to produce marijuana and then export it.

In October 2018 Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly proposed amendments to the Health Ministry that would legalize marijuana production and establish licenses for possession and distribution. Thai narcotics officials are telling their counterparts that the process to fully legalize marijuana for medical uses is expected by May 2019. 

Foreign firms, however, will have to wait as the government seeks to first award the rights to produce, extract and research the plant to Thai companies.

(Sources: Bloomberg; Chiang Rai Times)

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ENVIRONMENT

B.Grimm Starts Operations At 30.8 MW Of Thai Solar Parks

Thailand  -  January 2019

Thai company, B.Grimm, has launched commercial operations at seven solar photovoltaic (PV) parks at home with a combined capacity of 30.83 MW. Four of the plants are supplying power to the Metropolitan Electricity Authority under a 25-year power purchase agreement. They are located in Bangkok, Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi.

With the latest addition from those seven solar farms, the SET-listed firm closed 2018 with combined capacity equity to 2,076 MWs, up by 26% from the previous year, and strengthening BGRIM’s position as one of Thailand’s leading private power producers. Meanwhile, B. Grimm's on-going solar energy projects in Vietnam, with a total installed capacity of 677 MWs, are making satisfactory progress in construction. 

BGRIM currently operates an aggregate of 36 power stations comprising 15 co-generation plants, 18 solar farms, two hydropower plants, and one diesel generator in Thailand and abroad.

(Sources: Renewables Now; Thai Visa)

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INFRASTRUCTURE

SRT Assessing Bids For High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports

Thailand  -  January 2019

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is still considering bids for a high-speed railway project connecting three major airports. So far the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP)-led consortium has offered the most competitive bid. 

The CP-led consortium comprises CP, Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc, China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd, Ch Karnchang Plc, and Italian-Thai Development Plc. The other group is BSR Joint Venture which is made up of Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc, and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc.

When the bidding was announced, 31 potential investors bought the terms of reference document. Based on technical qualifications and track record, only two groups are qualified to bid for the rail link project connecting Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in Bangkok with U-Tapao airport in the eastern province of Rayong. The other group bidding is BSR Joint Venture which includes Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc, and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc. 

The build-operate-transfer project, which is a key part of the planned Eastern Economic Corridor, is valued at USD 7 billion and comes with a 50-year concession. The bid winner will be awarded a 50-year contract, consisting ot five years for design and construction of the rail link project and 45 years for operations. 

(Sources: Bangkok Post; The Nation)

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Factory inside steel

MANUFACTURING

Prinx Chengshan Investing USD 25 Million In New Tire Factory In Thailand

Thailand  -  January 2019

Chinese company, Prinx Chengshan, announced in January 2018 that it will invest 19 million GBP in a new tire factory in Thailand. The factory will be located across three sites located at Tambon Nong Suea Chang, Amphur Nong Yai, and Tambon Klong-Kew, Amphur Ban-Bung, Chonburi province..

The tire maker believes that the Thai site offers low costs for raw materials and transportation, while also avoiding international trade barriers. Other benefits include local preferential policies on areas such as taxes and human resources.

The Chinese company has also opted to have a plant located overseas in order to create a more global image for its products, which it believes will improve the positioning and enhance the competitiveness of its products.

(Sources: Rubber & Plastics News; Morjan Media)

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Aeroplane in sky

DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Draft Bill In Thailand To Allow 100% Foreign Ownership In Selected Aerospace Sectors

Thailand  -  January 2019

In December 2018 Thailand approved a draft bill for the air navigation law that lets foreign investors who win Board of Investment (BoI) promotional privileges to own up to 100% of shares. Aircraft manufacturing, aircraft parts manufacturing, and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) for aircraft, are three areas where Thailand will allow 100% foreign ownership. So far, the Air Navigation Act of 1954 requires Thai companies to hold a 51% share in the three categories.

The move aims to attract foreign investors to the aviation industry, which is one of the targeted industries the government is promoting for its flagship Eastern Economic Corridor project. 

Currently, the Royal Thai Navy is in the process of opening bids for the first phase of the U-tapao aviation city project. The first phase covers 6,500 rai (10.4 sq km) and includes the third terminal, a second runway, a commercial gateway, the second phase of the MRO hub, a cargo village or free-trade zone, and a human resources training centre. The aviation city is expected to be able to accommodate 60 million passengers annually, putting it on a par with Suvarnabhumi, and to yield economic returns worth THB 189 billion (USD 6 billion) every year.

(Source: Aviation Pros)

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Retail open sign

RETAIL / FMCG

Taco Bell Debuts In Thailand

Thailand  -  January 2019

American company Taco Bell will partner with Siam Taco Co Ltd to bring its Mexican-inspired cuisine to Thailand for the first time. 

Early in 2019, Taco Bell will open its first Thailand location on the first floor of Mercuryville mall in central Bangkok. The upcoming Mercuryville Taco Bell will feature an urban-concept design that embodies the business and shopping community of the Chidlom area in Bangkok. Ideal for office workers and shoppers, the 60-seat restaurant will feature an open kitchen and modern design benches, making it an ideal spot to catch up with friends or take a break from shopping

Thai fans can look forward to a selection of Taco Bell’s famous Mexican-inspired food, including the Crunchwrap Supreme, Grilled Stuft Burrito and the trademark Crunchy Taco, as well as speciality items developed specifically for the Thai market.

(Sources: The Nation)

Vietnam

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ECONOMIC NEWS

CPTPP Takes Effect In Vietnam In January 2019

Vietnam  -  January 2019

On January 14, 2019, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) officially came into effect in Vietnam. The country's National Assembly passed a resolution approving the deal and related documents on November 12, 2018. The agreement is expected to boost Vietnam's GDP growth by USD 1.7 billion and exports by over USD 4 billion by 2035. 

The CPTPP was signed in Santiago in March 2018 by 11 countries including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It will create a huge free economic sector where its participants whole the keys to enter a market size of about 500 million people. Member countries account for about 13 percent of global GDP. The agreement will gradually eliminate 98%of tariffs on agricultural and industrial products, ease investment regulations and enhance protection of intellectual property. 

The Ministry of Industry and Trade in Vietnam is co-operating with the Embassy of Australia and the World Bank to build an e-commerce portal to introduce free trade agreements that Việt Nam is participating in, including CPTPP, with search tools specific for commitments and regulations in each sector and industry for each partner participating in the agreements.

(Source: Vietnam News)

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ICT

Vietnam Preparing To Launch National Digital Map

Vietnam  -  January 2019

Vietnam’s digital map on https://map.itrithuc.vn/ project, which creates a full address list and associated geocodes in a complete map is planned to be operational by February, 2019. The digital map is a part of the “Digital Vietnamese knowledge project” from Vietnam government to create a Vietnamese version of Wikipedia about different aspects of the country. 

The State-run Vietnam Post (VnPost) Corporation is in charge of aggregating map data as its experience in collecting information on a nationwide scale. By January 11th, a total of nearly 1.39 million addresses across the country had been aggregated. VnPost is also handling establishing the IT infrastructure for the project, preparing information collection and reviewing plans, before urging local business and people to provide necessary edits related to their addresses.

People’s committees have been asked to co-ordinate closely with the science and technology ministry and VnPost. Local departments of environment, transport and statistics are also aiding the information collection workers.

As the government's decision support tool and the information hub for businesses and organisations, the digital map is expected to help all Vietnamese people, especially the younger generation to develop innovative technologies. 

(Source: Vietnam News)

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Solar panel

ENERGY

Construction Initiated On USD 150 Million Solar Plant In Tra Vinh

Vietnam  -  January 2019

Trung Nam Tra Vinh Solar Power JSC has recently initiated construction of solar power plants, valued at VND 3.55 trillion (more than USD 150 million), in Duyen Hai Township, in Tra Vinh, a Mekong Delta province. The 171 ha plant expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2019, and it offers a designed capacity of 165 MWp. It will contribute more than 250 milion kWh of electricity to the nation grid annually.

According to the general director of Trung Nam Tra Vinh Solar Power JSC, Mr. Do Van Kien, the construction of the plant not only helps cut greenhouse gas emissions, but also generates jobs for more than 1,500 workers and contributes to development and social welfare in the region. The on-going project is firmly supported by Tra Vinh local authorities.

Experts anticipate a promising future for solar energy in Viet Nam as it has a technical potential of solar energy is estimated at 300 Gigawatts (GW). The Government has established an ambitious target to install 12GW of solar power by 2030.

(Sources: Vietnamnews)

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Medical devices   lab equipment

MEDICAL

Medical Devices Business Regulations Modified In Vietnam

Vietnam  -  January 2019

The Vietnam Ministry of Health (MOH) issued Decree No. 169/2018/ND-CP on 31 December, 2018 amending and supplementing some articles of Decree No.36 on Medical Device Management. The changes, which have taken effect on January 01, 2019, affect the below:

• Explaination of the definition of medical device;

• Classification of medical device;

• Conditions of establishments that classify, produce and trade medical device;

• Procedures for declaration, registration for circulation and importation of medical device;

• Activities of inspection and calibration of device;

• Management and use of medical device in medical facilities;

• Organization of implementation.

Decree 36 has been reported by foreign and local industry associations to cause some difficulties for business activities, including overlapping regulations and cumbersome administrative procedures, costing time and money for businesses and other stakeholders. Decree 169 aims to fix the faults and simplify business conditions for entrprises operating in the market.

(Source: Department of Medical Equipment and Construction)

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ENVIRONMENT

Vietnam, Japan Cooperating To Address Environmental Pollution

Vietnam  -  January 2019

As a result of strong economic growth in the current decade, Vietnam is facing severe environmental issues such as frequent flooding in the city caused by climate change, or solid waste treament. Taking action to reduce environmental pollution, especially poluttion in the big cities, are major challenges that the country is focusing its efforts on. 

To strengthen opperation between Vietnam and Japan in addressing and solving environmental issues in Vietnam, Vietnam-Japan Environment Week was held in January 11th, 2019. Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan expressed that Vietnam hopes to receive more active assistance from Japan and to learn more experience in solid waste management and seek suitable models.

Japanese Vice Minister of the Environment Takaaki Katsumata said Japan had experienced similar issues to Vietnam when its economy attained the rapid growth in the 1960s. Japanese government will support Vietnam in the field of environmental work through technical cooperation activities, technological transfers, and branching out technologies towards sustainable environment protection. 

Vietnam’s first waste-to-energy facility that applied advanced technology from Japan initiated operations in May 2017 in Nam Son Waste Treatment Complex, Soc Son District, Hanoi. The factory has the capacity of treating 75 tonnes of waste per day.

(Sources: Vietnam News; Nhan Dan; Vietnam Plus)

 

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City night light infrastructure

INFRASTRUCTURE

70 Transportation Projects To Start In HCMC In 2019

Vietnam  -  January 2019

Ho Chi Minh City's department of Transportation has annouced its plan to start the construction of around 70 projects this year, including 45 projects for upgrading and expansion of roads, and 23 new bridges.

Some of the notable projects are 59km section of the southern intercity expressway with 10 lanes, connecting key industrial zones in Ben Luc, Nhon Trach and Long Thanh districts; a parallel road along the HCM City- Long Thanh- Dau Giay expressway; a belt ring road which will connect HCM City and Bình Dương and Long An provinces...

The authority is looking into generating more funds from the private sector for transport projects. The People's Commitee suggested Department of Transport examine the investment plan of the transport projects in the form of build and transfer (BT) instead of the current form of build-operate-transfer (BOT). The authority would be the one who organises bidding for transport projects under the new form of BT.  

(Source: Vietnam News)

 

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Paper production

MANUFACTURING

Construction On Maurbeni Paperboard Mill Kicked Off

Vietnam  -  January 2019

The Japanese group, Marubeni, has started the construction of paperboard mill plant in the North of Ba Ria Vung Tau Province in January, 2019. The project which is worth VND 4.81 trillion (USD 206 million) comprises a total area of 15ha in Phu My 3 Industrial Zone (IZ). The designed capacity is said to be at 400,000 tonnes annually. Commercial production will commence in the second half of 2020

The head of authority in the province hopes the new mill will make effective contributions to fostering  provincial socio-economic development and create more jobs for local people and local enterprises. Ba Ria Vung Tau has attracted 351 foreign-invested projects with total registered capital of  USD 27.18 billion. Japan ranked fifth among 27 nations with 31 projects, valued at USD 2.25 billion. Furthermore the production will also aid the business of packaging paper, which is forcast to grow at the rate of 15% over the next 10 years. 

(Source: Vietnam News)

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Airplane boeing

DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Vietnam's Newest Airline Bamboo Airways Launches Flights

Vietnam  -  January 2019

On Jan 16, the Vietnam's Bamboo Airways completed its inaugural flight that departed from Ho Chi Minh City and arrrived at Hanoi's Noi Bai International. It joins other local players, local airlines operating are Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, Vietjet Aviation and Vietnam Air Services.

The carrier plans to operate up to 60 domestic flights per day with 37 routes connecting major cities and tourist destinations domestically and internationally. The first domestic routes will be Hanoi to Quy Nhon, Hanoi to Dong Hoi, HCM City to Quy Nhon, Hanoi to HCM City and HCM City to Van Don. The airline intends to expand its fleet to 40 to 50 by the end of this year. 

Established in 2017 with the charter capital of VND 700 billion (USD 31.4 million) and owned by FLC property and leisure group, the airway is part of the Viet Bamboo Airlines Company based in the city of Quy Nhon in Bình Dinh Province. FLC Group has positioned Bamboo Airways as a hybrid airline, blending low-cost traits with those of traditional or full-service carriers.

Being one of the fastest economic growth countries in Asia, Vietnam has recorded double-digit expansion in domestic and inbound passenger numbers. The government encourages tourism with visa exemptions and by promoting investment in the industry.

(Sources: Channel NewAsia; Vietnam News)

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Cosmetics

RETAIL / FMCG

Beauty and Healthcare Giant Watsons Enters Vietnam

Vietnam  -  January 2019

The leading health and beauty retail brand in Asia and Eastern Europe, Watsons has launched its first fladship store inVietNam on Jan 17, 2019. The store is strategically placed in the lower level of Bitexco financial tower in District 1, HCM City, offering 6,000 products in beauty and health care. Vietnam is the 13th market to join Watson's network of over 7,200 stores across Asia and Europe.

On the launching date, Watson also annouced its plan for 50 more shops within 5 years to keep up with the two country's biggest players: Guardian, founded in Singapore, and local player Medicare. Vietnam's beauty products market has grown at a compound annual rate of 30% over the past few years, with foreign brands making up more than 90% of sales. Watson is expected to face a fierce competition as these players has been well established in the market. Moreover, there are many smaller cosmetics chains or individual stores sell imported products from South Korea, Japan, France and the U.S. in addition to a bustling online trade in health and beauty products on e-commerce platforms, such as Lazada, Sendo and Tiki. 

Vietnamese spent an estimated USD 6 billion on imported cosmetics and beauty products in 2018, a threefold increase over 2016.

(Sources: Inside Retailer Asia: Nikkei Asian Review)

 

Philippines

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Startup photos

ECONOMIC NEWS

Philippine Bill Aims To Open SMEs and Start-ups To Foreign Investors

Philippines  -  January 2019

The Philippine House of Representatives has approved House Bill No. 8764 on its final reading, which attempts to amend the Republic Act No. 7042, referred to as the Foreign Investments Act of 1991. The bill intends to bring in more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), facilitate transfer of technology, and share technical know-how.

House Bill No. 8764 seeks to make changes to a stipulation which restricts foreign equity to a certain percentage and bans the practice of profession in Pharmacy, Radiologic and X-Ray Technology, Criminology, Forestry, and Law, or foreign participation in some sectors of the economy like mass media, small-scale mining, recruitment, operation and management of public utilities, among others, that are in the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL).

Small and medium-sized domestic market enterprises, with paid-in equity capital less than the equivalent USD 200,000.00 are reserved to Philippine nationals. But foreign investors are allowed to have minimum capital of USD 100,000 if they employ a minimum number of employess and are engaged in advanced technologiy areas as determined by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). HB 8764 seeks to lower the hiring magnitude to 15 from 50 employees.

(Source: Manila Bulletin; News Bytes; Business World)

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ICT

ICS-Verint Venture To Develop National Cybersecurity Platform For Philippines

Philippines  -  January 2019

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in the Philippines has awarded a contract for the development of a national cybersecurity platform called Cybersecurity Management System for intelligence sharing, monitoring threats and defending the country’s cyber 'infostructure' from cyberattacks. The platform aims to strengthen the resilience of the country, as part of the vision laid out in the National Cybersecurity Plan 2022 of having a “trusted and resilient infostructure.”

The system will be developed by a joint venture between Philippine company, Integrated Computer Systems, Inc., and Israel’s Verint System Limited, a provider of surveillance tools to companies and the Israeli government. The joint venture won the contract last year after submitting a PHP 508 million (USD 9.7 million) bid. The collaboration between the two companies was among those signed by President Rodrigo Duterte during his trip to Israel in September 2018. The Philippines had been reinforcing its partnership with Israel regarding its military capability buildup, supplying the country with air surveillance radars, surface to surface missiles, and force protection equipment.

The project runs with a license period of three years. The project will be delivered to DICT’s Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center in ten months which will be responsible on setting up parameters and manning the monitoring using also the AI tools to be supplied by ICS-Verint.

The centralized monitoring platform would enhance the country’s ability to act on threats, before, during, and after cyber attacks. It would also monitor cyberthreats in the dark web in support of law enforcement authorities, defense, and drug enforcement agencies functions as needed. The project's first phase would cater to 10 government agencies that were identified as priorities: DICT, the Office of the President, the Department of Finance, the Department of Energy, Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Security Council, the Department of Budget and Management, the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the Department of National Defense.

(Sources: Philippine Daily Inquirer; Philippine News Agency; Business World )

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ENERGY

Tanglawan Philippine LNG Inc Receives Approval To Build Terminal

Philippines  -  January 2019

The Tanglawan Philippine LNG Inc has been granted by the Department of Energy the Notice to Proceed to build an LNG terminal in Batangas. The company plans to break ground by 2019 for the regasification and receiving terminal with a capacity of 2.2 mtpa, with commercial operations targeted to start by 2023.

The LNG facility will help support the demand for a clean, low-cost, and environment friendly energy source in Luzon and contribute to the sustainable development of the Philippine economy. The integrated long-term project plan also aims to develop a gas-fired power generation facility with up to 2,000 megawatts installed capacity.

A possible joint venture arrangement for Tanglawan Philippine LNG Inc. is currently being discussed between China’s largest LNG importer and terminal operator, CNOOC Gas and Power Group Co., Ltd., and Philippine’s fastest-growing oil company, Phoenix Petroleum.

(Source: Phoenix Petroleum)

 

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MEDICAL

New Law In Philippines Aims To Enhance Government Response To HIV-AIDS

Philippines  -  January 2019

The Philippine government is going to strengthen its response to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) cases as President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Republic Act 11166, or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018.

The new law aims to be a landmark legislation to curb the prevalence of HIV and AIDS and reduce the stigma of people with such illness. According to a recent report by the Department of Health (DOH), the country has the highest percentage increase of HIV cases from 2010 to 2016 in Asia-Pacific Region. In addition, there were 954 new cases recorded last November 2018, where 18% are in an advanced stage, most of whom are male with an average age of 27 years old.

Some of the general provisions under this law as summarized by several news outfits are:


  • Mandates the government to allocate more funds to promote HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment and require education about public health concerns in schools and communities

  • DOH would establish a program for free and accessible anti-retroviral treatment and medication for people living with HIV.

  • Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) will be reconstituted and streamlined to ensure the implementation of the country’s response to the HIV and AIDS situation.

  • Mandates the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to develop a benefit package to include coverage for inpatient and outpatient medical and diagnostic services, including medication and treatment.

  • Requires all schools to teach students of the causes, modes of transmission and prevention of HIV, AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infection.

  • The government will encourage voluntary HIV testing

  • HIV test will be compulsory if a person is charged with a violation of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997; when it is necessary to resolve issues under the Family Code of the Philippines; and if a person wants to donate blood.

  • Minors under the age category of 5 to under 18 could consent to voluntary HIV testing without the approval of their parents or guardians, as previously required under Republic Act 8504.

(Sources: CNN Philippines, Manila Standard, Manila Bulletin)

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ENVIRONMENT

DENR Prepares to Launch Manila Bay Rehabilitation Project

Philippines  -  January 2019

The Philippine government has entrusted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to spearhead the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. President Rodrigo Duterte is allocating PHP 47 billion (USD 893 million) to support the clean-up. The funds are expected to be obtained from road users’ tax upon abolition of the Road Board. 

According to the DENR the rehabilitation process would tentatively be a 7-year plan although they also said that there isn’t a final completion date as it will be a time-consuming process and dependent on how the bay responds to the treatments. DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu hopes to finish the project by the end of Duterte's term in June 2022.

Manila Bay is only one of the many spots in the Philippines that is undergoing a series of clean-ups and rehabilitation. This project was long overdue for nearly 10 years, pending since December 2008, when the Supreme court issued a mandamus stating that 13 government agencies should spearhead the clean-up of Manila Bay.

Furthermore, President Duterte released a statement saying that he would not think twice about ordering establishments to close down if they are found violating any regulations on proper waste disposal such as water treatments, filtration, etc. The Manila bay Rehabilitation will commence on January 27, 2019 at The Manila Yacht Club. 

(Sources: Philippine Star; CNN Philippines; The Manila Times)

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INFRASTRUCTURE

Spain Offers €300 Million Funding for Philippine Infrastructure Projects

Philippines  -  January 2019

Two memorandum of understanding (MOU) are currently being finalized by the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines and the Philippines' Department of Finance (DOF), following Spain's proposal to invest in the current administration’s various projects, mainly in the infrastructure, agro-food and tourism sectors. 

Spain offers to fund €300 million to cover possible projects in infrastructure, energy and renewable energy, telecommunication, water treatment, solid waste treatment, agro-food industry and tourism sectors. The cost of borrowing offered by Spain to the Philippines is a 0.25% interest rate over a 35-year period, and 1.15% rate over a 20-year period, as of the third quarter of 2018.

Another agreement on economic and financial cooperation is also being proposed by Spain, with focus on investments in the current administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program, particularly in railway build-ups. The Philippie government has welcomed the offer, citing that Spain and its companies are most welcome to take part in the 75 flagship projects under the BBB, particularly in providing rolling stock and other equipment for the rail projects in Metro Manila and Luzon.

Under this proposed MOU a Joint Intergovernmental Committee (Joint Committee) will be created to identify opportunities for cooperation in such fields as agriculture, transportation, basic infrastructure, disaster-risk finance, energy and environmental economics. This joint panel will be composed of representatives from both countries, to be co-chaired by an undersecretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Secretary of State of Trade of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of Spain, with a representative from the Department of Finance (DOF) as member.

Last November Spain pledged an additional PHP 2.619 billion (USD 50 million) for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-torn city of Marawi in Mindanao. Spain’s pledge is on top of the technical assistance it had provided to government agencies, in preparation for the implementation of projects under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRPP).

(Sources: Philippine News Agency; Business Mirror; Philstar Global)

 

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MANUFACTURING

Cargill Subsidiary and Filipino Realtor Ramp Up Development of Industrial Complexes

Philippines  -  January 2019

The Philippine subsidiary of multinational firm Cargill, Cargill Joy Poultry Meats Production (or C-Joy), has partenered with Filipino company CentralHub Industrial Centers to develop industrial facilities across the country.

CentralHub Industrial Centers is the industrial leasing unit of Philippine real estate development company, DoubleDragon Properties Corp. This team up with C-Joy  is in line with the company's goal of becoming the country's leading supplier of industrial complexes, targeting eight projects with a total 100,000 square meters of leasable industrial spaces by 2020. 

“We are very optimistic for the growth prospects of CentralHub as we expect the demand for modern industrial complexes to continue to increase significantly as more companies will require modern standardized multi-use warehouses suited for commissaries, cold storage, light manufacturing and logistic distribution centers,” said DoubleDragon chief investment officer Hannah Yulo.

DoubleDragon is one of the top property developer in the country that has identified industrial leasing as another growth area. The surge of the retail sector, particularly, e-commerce, and demands from the industrial sector such as electronics, automotive, and chemicals and pharmaceuticals, are the top contributors for the expected sustained growth of the logistics and warehouse sector in the Philippines in the medium-term. 

(Sources: Manila Standard; Business World; Philippine Star; Press Reader) 

 

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DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Philippines Legislature Passes Bill Creating Space Agency

Philippines  -  January 2019

In December 2018, the Philippines House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 8541, or the Philippine Space Development Act, designed to help beef up the country’s development of space technologies, applications and a more secure and independent space access.

The bill aims to create a central government agency called Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) which will be under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST). According to the explanatory note of the bill going to the Senate, the PhilSA will be responsible for developing space science technology policies, implementing research and education programs, and establishing industry linkages between private and public sector stakeholders. It will also be the Philippines’ representation for international space agreements and arbitrations.

PhilSA’s headquarter will be housed on 30 hectare of land, which are under the administration of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority within the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and Tarlac.

The bill also requires establishing a Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy (PSDUP), a roadmap that would enable the country to be a globally capable nation on space front.

(Source: Philippine News Agency; Manila Bulletin)

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RETAIL / FMCG

Vista Land Plans To Adds 7 New Malls To Its Portfolio By 2020

Philippines  -  January 2019

Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc, one of the largest property companies in the Philippines, plans to complete seven new malls over the next two years that will add 274,000 square meters of gross floor area to its existing leasing portfolio of 1.16 million square meters comprising of 26 malls, seven office buildings and 50 commercial centres across the country.. In 2019, the company plans to complete the 54,000 sqm Vistamall North Molino phase 1 in Bacoor, Cavite, the 35,000 sqm Vistamall Mintal phase 1 in Davao City, the 40,000 sqm Vistamall Dasmariñas in Cavite and the 45,000 sqm Vistamall Sta. Maria in Bulacan.

In 2020, Vista Land expects the completion of the 40,000 sqm Vistamall Santiago, in Isabela province, the 40,000 sqm Vistamall Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija and the 20,000 sqm Vistamall Butuan in Butuan City. The construction of these new malls will be funded with the PHP 10 billion (USD 190 million) worth of fresh capital that was raised via a bond offering in December 2018.

By 2020, Vista Land plans to operate 60 malls that are expected to generate a steady stream of leasing revenues for the company. The company has established presence in about 133 cities and municipalities across 46 provinces. It plans to focus on the development of integrated urban development combining lifestyle retail, prime office space, university town, healthcare, themed residential developments and leisure components.

(Source: Manila Standard)

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