Singapore: Ambitious Asia-Pacific Companies Seek Capital, New Markets And Talent In Bid For Growth
Last Updated: 3 December 2015

Stronger economic conditions are driving businesses to look at international expansion. However, there are many potential hurdles to consider...

Businesses in the Asia-Pacific are looking to expand for a range of reasons including finding new sources of capital, fresh talent and to extend their market, according to research commissioned by TMF Group, a leading global provider of high-value business services.

Published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the study 'Corporate overseas expansion – opportunities and barriers' finds that over half (53%) of companies in the region seek to expand overseas to find new sources of capital while a similar amount (51%) are searching for new markets for their products or services. Two in 5 companies state that they expand to find new talent and skills, or to avoid intense competition in home markets.

Compared to companies in both the US and EU, who are mainly motivated by market share gains (54% and 70% respectively), the reasons cited by businesses in the Asia Pacific underline the complex challenges facing them.

Nicholas Nash, group president of Singapore-based Garena, an online mobile gaming and entertainment company, said: "Asia is awash in liquidity [but], in general, capital allocation in Asia tends to skew toward the fixed-income side of the capital structure and toward more traditional, asset-intensive industries."

With such business drivers for expansion, half of respondents prefer destinations where they either have an existing small to medium presence (51%) or no presence (32%).

Paolo Tavolato, Regional Director of TMF Group APAC, said: "An increasing number of Asian businesses are looking to expand abroad as part of their growth strategy and to attract new capital and talent. However, moving into new territories can be a time-consuming and expensive process – whether it is sourcing the right people or understanding the local regulatory, tax and compliance environment.

"Even once established overseas, firms continue to face fresh challenges as they attempt to manage the many local nuances that influence their business strategy. Businesses should pay careful consideration to local practices and customs or they risk commercial and reputational damage."

The report also finds that, unlike their North American and European counterparts, Asia-Pacific businesses have very limited need for the services of Chambers of Commerce, apart from the occasional set-up of a new local office (36%).

Instead, they look to external service providers to complement their own knowledge and expertise. Nearly a quarter of respondents use both in-house and external advisors for HR admin and payroll services. Meanwhile, 30% might exclusively seek external help in the area of legal or accounting and tax compliance. Excessive bureaucracy in local tax systems was rated by respondents as the biggest accounting issue for expanding business.

PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS EQUALLY USING IN-HOUSE AND EXTERNAL SERVICES

%

Legal compliance

32%

Physical location & set up

47%

HR admin & payroll

23%

Accounting & tax compliance

45%

PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS PRIMARILY USING EXTERNAL EXPERTS

%

Legal compliance

30%

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