Kuala Lumpur 1st choice for overseas investment

Updated: 2012-09-25 06:59

By Sudeshna Sarkar(HK Edition)

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Kuala Lumpur 1st choice for overseas investment

Kuala Lumpur 1st choice for overseas investment

The China-Malaysia Strategic Business Partnership Forum brought a welcome gift for the Malaysian capital city.

"Because of our successful forum, (a delegation of Chinese investors) voted Kuala Lumpur (in Malaysia) to be their country of first choice for their first overseas office...beating Bangkok (Thailand), Jakarta (Indonesia) and Singapore," said Alexander Wan, senior advisor, China Daily Asia Pacific (CDAP).

The Malaysian government, he added, represented by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, had expressed "utmost appreciation" to CDAP for hosting such a strategic event.

The delegation of Chinese investors from the Aigo Entrepreneurs' Alliance (AEA) ended their four Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) city tour in Kuala Lumpur on Friday with a vote to choose two cities where they would set up offices to explore investment prospects.

Out of a short list which also included Singapore and Thailand, the members voted overwhelmingly for Malaysia, followed by Indonesia.

Besides highlighting the strategic partnership between China and Malaysia and bringing entrepreneurs and officials from both countries together, the forum also offered an immediate connection between Malaysians of Chinese origin and the persuasive reports given by overseas Chinese living in Malaysia who have a good image of the country.

"Malaysia is a good country, and Malaysians and Chinese can work together," said Feng Jun, chairman and president of Aigo Digital Technology, who led the AEA.

"It doesn't mean that the other countries are losers," Feng hastened to add during the forum's panel discussion. "However, we must have a sequence and the two elected countries will be the first ones to get investment from our members."

The AEA will now set up representative offices in Malaysia and Indonesia in possibly three to six months to facilitate the investors' entry.

"Some of the investors have already decided on the industries they would like to put their money into and may have done a lot of their homework. These companies will take the plunge before some of the others. The offices will find good matches so that it is a win-win situation for everyone," Feng said.

"Chinese investors' decision to seek investments abroad was an 'Olympian lesson'," Feng said

"Only when you lose something do you realize how much you care about it," he said. "When China hosted the Olympic Games in 2008, we thought it was the best show in the world, (and) nothing can surpass it.

"Then there came the London Olympics in 2012 which was equally successful.

"It was like seeing the girl you love getting married to another man and the marriage proving to be very successful."

The realization that they are no longer the cynosure of the world in the way they were during the 2008 Games is one reason for Chinese entrepreneurs to go outside the country to look for investments and to regain some of the lost limelight, Feng said.

"In 1988, South Korea hosted the Olympics and basked in the attention. In 1992 when the event went to Barcelona, South Korean businesses began to focus on growth to regain the lost glory."

However, Chinese investors interested in venturing farther than home often don't know how to go about it. Also, many still don't want to take high risks. So to give others an idea how to take the plunge and go out, he spearheaded the formation of the AEA.

The AEA is based on the philosophy of "helping 100 private Chinese enterprises to join the ranks of the Fortune 500". It aims to promote leading Chinese brands from China's rapidly growing private sector and to help them become global enterprises with contributions to corporate citizens worldwide.

The know-how is essential because even though the Chinese are a very hard-working people who "labor hard day and night", the country still lags behind nations like Japan and the US, where economic progress indicators like gross domestic product are concerned.

So the AEA is seeking to act as a bridge between Chinese investors and foreign countries seeking investment.

"We are matchmakers. Our job is to ensure that the two parties date first," he said. "If there's no dating, then there's no successful marriage."

Last December, members of the alliance voted to approve Belgium as their preferred investment destination in Europe. As the ASEAN selection ends, the alliance will next head for the US for similar action.

What makes the group different from other similar organizations, Feng added, is that there's no internal competition.

"We choose only one company from each industry," he said, continuing the love and marriage analogy. "It's like a marriage. A man can have only one wife."

(HK Edition 09/25/2012 page2)