Big British maker eyes plant in Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR: A big British manufacturer is said to be negotiating to set up a plant in Malaysia in the next 12 months.

The British High Commission Kuala Lumpur director of trade and investment Tony Collingridge, who revealed this, said the planned investment was another indication of the healthy trade between the United Kingdom and Malaysia. He declined to elaborate further.

Collingridge said that more Britain-based companies were looking to do regional business in Malaysia due to agreeable costing.

Major existing contributors operate in the oil and gas, financial services and, progressively, the education sectors.

“We’ll be seeing more Islamic collaboration between the UK and Malaysia, a reflection of the fact that Britian is arguably the world’s most prominent financial centre, coupled with Malaysia’s ambition on being the world’s leading Islamic financial centre. There’s a good synergy here,” he said.

Education is also a promising sector. Right now there are three British affiliated universities – the University of Nottingham, Newcastle Medical School and University of Southampton Malaysia. The University of Reading Malaysia in Johor and Heriot-Watt University in Putrajaya as well as two private schools are slated to join the list next year.

The feedback from British investors in Malaysia to the British High Commission has generally been positive, according to Collingridge.

“These are Shell, Aberdeen Asset Management and the Royal Bank of Scotland. No company is forced to stay and the bottom line is that they wouldn’t still be here if life was not good here,” he said.

In March, the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) released the Inward Investment Report 2012/2013, which showed 1,559 investment projects worldwide increased by an 11% from the preceding year.

Malaysia’s contribution accounted for 0.58% of the projects, or 8% of the 114 projects the UK inked under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).

The United States remains the largest foreign investor in Britain with 396 projects, up 18% year-on-year, followed by Japan and India with 114 and 89 projects, respectively.

UKTI managing director of investment Michael Boyd said in the report that the results were especially impressive considering the increasing competition for foreign direct investments on the back of a dismal economic outlook in the United Kingdom.

A contributing factor would be the Battersea power station redevelopment project which would create some 14,000 jobs over three years.

On another note, Collingridge dismissed the notion of a growing resistance among British locals against foreigners buying large plots of land in Britain.

“Genuinely, there may have been a report or two that stated their concerns but, ultimately, it has more to do with the cost of property than anything else.

“We have a big property market in Britain and our job is to find a developer that can handle the task.

“The Battersea project has been a real benefit for South London. It has been incredible to develop 3,000 new homes and it has helped us make the extension for a northern line,” he said.

Inversely, British firms have been strengthening their presence here in Malaysia.

Dyson, the vacuum cleaner maker that moved its production to Johor in 2002 is something of a success story for Britain as the cost savings from the move allowed the manufacturer to further invest in research and development at its headquarters.

“The bottom line is that they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think this was a good environment to do business in,” he said.

“As Malaysia moves ahead with its Economic Transformation Programme you will see more British investments here. Both prime ministers aim to double our trades by 2016,” he said.

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