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What Opportunities are Investors from Other ASEAN Countries Seeing in the Philippines?

A look at the biggest projects registered by Southeast Asian firms with the gov't in the last 6 years and 10 months
By Pauline Macaraeg |




Foreign investors have always played an important role in the Philippines, building crucial infrastructures and setting up mines, agricultural plantations, factories and service facilities that help drive economic growth.


What has changed in the last decade or so is the growing prominence of investors from other Southeast Asian neighbors, particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, who are competing head to head with companies from the world’s richest countries or regions such as the United States, Japan and Europe.



Formerly an American company, PLDT, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, for example, is now significantly owned by a Hong Kong-based holding company ultimately controlled by the family of the late Indonesian billionaire Sudono Salim. As well, the No. 2 telco, Globe Telecom, is also partially owned by Singapore Telecoms, which is owned by the Singapore government.


What are the rest of Southeast Asian investors up to in the Philippines? What projects and sectors are they investing in?


For answers, Entrepreneur Philippines took a close look at the list of investment projects registered by Southeast Asian companies with the Board of Investments (BOI), the government’s leading incentives-granting body, from 2010 to the first 10 months of 2017.


The result is the infographic on this page listing the 30 biggest investment projects from other ASEAN investors approved by the BOI, which grants tax holidays and other incentives to qualified investors. Only companies that are at least 40-percent owned by other Southeast nationals are included in the list.



The results show that only three ASEAN countries--Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia--dominate investments from the region.


Singapore, also known as the startup capital of Asia, has the most number of companies in the list. Seventeen companies have Singaporean owners in their boards—more than half of the total number of firms in the list. Thailand and Malaysia both have citizens who have ownerships in seven companies each.


By cost, the list is topped by the Second phase of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Project. GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation, the company behind it, is composed of 38.3-percent Singaporean owners. The company is investing a total of Php16.75 billion—bigger than the combined amount provided for the second and third biggest projects in the list.


The rehabilitation, construction, maintenance and expansion of the South Luzon Expressway by the South Luzon Tollway Corporation approved in 2009 comes second with an investment cost of Php8.35 billion. The company is composed of 80-percent Malaysian owners and 20-percent Filipino.



In all, there were 72 approved ASEAN-related investment projects in the last six years and 10 months.






Pauline Macaraeg is Entrepreneur PH's data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg

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