Malaysia: Tapping Into ASEAN Via Labuan IBFC

Last Updated: 8 June 2016
Article by Labuan IBFC Inc.

How two professional services firms, housed in a Labuan domiciled company, scaled up its ASEAN presence via Labuan IBFC

Strategically located in the heart of Asia Pacific, Labuan IBFC is well positioned to tap into one of the fastest growing regions in the world, presenting the perfect opportunity for businesses seeking to connect with Asia and ASEAN economies.

As a leading midshore jurisdiction, Labuan IBFC offers a comprehensive midshore solution that strikes a perfect balance between client confidentiality and stringent compliance with international best standards and practices among legal and fiscal frameworks.

Labuan IBFC provides a unique and special proposition for fast-expanding companies, whether into, or out of, Asia and ASEAN. It offers an attractive tax system that is well-supported by a dynamic, modern and internationally recognised legal framework, competently enforced by its regulator, the Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA).

In fact, all these elements combined provide for an ideal ecosystem for regional companies or multi-jurisdictional families to house their corporate entities and dealings as well as wealth management transactions.

An Initial Public Offering via Labuan IBFC

Labuan IBFC provides a platform for companies to list in countries such as Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. This platform offers a flexible, borderless and currency neutral base for these debutants protected by a strong regulatory and anti-money laundering mechanism.

The fact that Labuan IBFC is not subject to Malaysian exchange controls, foreign ownership limitations and has a clear as well as flexible tax system, just provides for hassle free asset and investment holdings in other countries.

Labuan IBFC's regulatory environment meets regulatory co-operation requirements of most developed countries, as it is a member of the International Organization of Securities Commission's (IOSCO), as well as a signatory to the Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMoU) Concerning Consultation and Cooperation and the Exchange of Information.

Presently, Labuan companies have been used as listing vehicles on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX), the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of Australia.

Below are two examples of how two professional services firms, housed in a Labuan IBFC domiciled company, scaled up its ASEAN presence via Labuan IBFC.

ZICO Holdings

ZICO's story began in 1987, with the establishment of the law firm, Zaid Ibrahim & Co. In 1992, ZICO Corporate Services Sdn Bhd was established to provide incorporation and company secretarial services.

By 1996, ZICO had expanded beyond Kuala Lumpur and diversified its related services, by setting up ZICO Trust Limited, with the aim of providing offshore services, including trust and private client services, trustee services and Labuan company incorporation services.

Between 2002 and 2012, the company entered a period of rapid regional expansion in Southeast Asia and diversified into other related services. In 2010, ZICO was incorporated under the Labuan Companies Act as a company limited by shares under the name of "ZI Holdings Inc".

By 2014, ZICO Holdings listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange's Catalist Board, making the company the first Labuan-incorporated company to be listed on a foreign stock exchange. As Labuan is deemed as an acceptable jurisdiction by the Exchange having met all the regulatory requirements, the listing in Singapore by ZICO Holding was a smooth process.

Mr Chew Seng Kok, ZICO Holdings Managing Director recounts how his company became the first Labuan entity to be listed on a foreign stock exchange.

Q: Why a Labuan business registration? Why not a Singapore incorporation?

A: Labuan IBFC is a flexible, borderless jurisdiction with strong regulatory mechanisms that we can offer ASEAN clients. The fact that it is not subject to Malaysian exchange controls and has a clear tax system works well for our clients, who are looking to have an asset holding company in this region. Personally, I think Labuan is as good as Singapore or any other international financial centres.

Q: Why list?

A: We are the first ASEAN-focused provider of integrated multidisciplinary professional services to be listed on SGX's high-growth Catalist Board, which gives us a first mover advantage among our peers.

The funds from the IPO gave us a war chest to expand our businesses on a far greater scale than previously, allowing us to compete more effectively. It also drives ZICO's visibility on the capital market and business front, which in turn benefits shareholders and drives considerable value going forward.

The listing also allowed us to reward employees with ownership stakes that will help in driving staff retention and acquisition.

Q: And why SGX?

A: We have regional ambitions and Singapore, as the regional hub for professional services and multinational corporations, will offer the platform to push our growth agenda further, by allowing easier access to clients and investors.

In addition, ZICO established Singapore as its regional hub some years back, so the listing in Singapore is a natural progression for us.

Q: And what will this mean for the business?

A: It will mean a clear expansion in our client base, especially among those with a regional business presence.

These clients may be attracted by the advantage of leveraging on our existing regional presence in Southeast Asia and our strength in providing multidisciplinary professional services that can be integrated to create client centric customised solutions. Thus, it provides us with a distinctive advantage against single-service providers in the clients' respective home base.

Axcelasia Inc

Axcelasia Inc is an integrated professional services firm providing tax advisory, business consulting, enterprise management system ("EMS") applications and business support services to government-linked entities, public listed companies and multinational corporations. It was incorporated on 21 August 2015 in Labuan under the Labuan Companies Act as a company limited by shares.

On 27 November 2015, Axcelasia achieved another milestone by listing on the Catalist board of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited. Dr. Veerinderjeet Singh, Executive Chairman of Axcelasia, shares his experience on how his company achieved this milestone.

Q: What will this listing mean for Axcelasia's business? How will the listing help the company grow?

A: Axcelasia's listing on the SGX has helped the company raised around SGD11.9 million (USD8.44 million) out of a placement of 47.5 million shares (at SGD0.25 each), which will primarily be intended to fund the expansion of Axcelasia Group, in terms of acquisition of consultancy practices in ASEAN.

The funds will also be utilised to fund joint venture operations in ASEAN countries and possibly to also provide capital to start up new consultancy entities in those locations. We plan to expand into at least three countries within the next three years. We will also be looking at adding new professional services as we expand our scope of services in the near future.

Q: Why did Axcelasia decide to list on the SGX via Labuan? What are the advantages from listing via Labuan?

A: Axcelasia is incorporated in a tax efficient location (that is, Labuan IBFC). This helps the overall Group, in terms of arranging its business affairs, so that the relevant future income that flows into the holding entity will be taxed at a very competitive rate (that is, 3% on chargeable income). This has a positive impact on the bottom line of the holding entity and, in turn, allows more dividends to be paid to shareholders in future.

With the successful listing of ZICO Holdings Inc. via Labuan on the SGX in 2014, Axcelasia's listing would be the second listing on the Singapore Stock Exchange by a Labuan incorporated company.

Q: Could you share your insights as a Labuan user? And as a corporate advisory firm does Labuan feature as a jurisdiction on offer to your clients?

A: Labuan IBFC as a domicile is useful if a client needs a vehicle that carries out activities in the region and receives revenue flows which will be taxed at a very efficient rate in Labuan. As an advisory firm, our tax consultancy service entity does inform our clients about the distinct possibility of locating in Labuan if the client is looking for a tax efficient domicile.


Clearly, Labuan IBFC is an appealing listing destination for companies aiming to expand into the Asian and ASEAN markets, as it is an acceptable jurisdiction by key stock exchanges in the region. It also continues to be an appealing tax-neutral destination for investors as its straightforward and flexible tax system means that companies stand to enjoy fiscal efficiency and stress-free year-end filing.

With its continuous drive to offer operational, commercial and economic substance, Labuan IBFC has emerged as the ideal jurisdiction to cater to the varied business needs of Asia and ASEAN in order to connect the region's economies, whilst ensuring international standards of tax and ownership transparency are met.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions