Do We Have Great Companies In Singapore?
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY TAY JUN HAO AND FIRST PUBLISHED ON THE ASIA REPORT
One of the common comments I hear about Singapore is that there are simply no companies that can compete on the world stage.
We have no famous brands like Apple, Microsoft, IBM and so on.
I vigorously disagree with this.
It is not an apples to apples comparison.
Let’s consider the limitations of Singapore.
When a business does well in America, it has the ability to expand in a relatively similar environment to the rest of the United States.
You have a similar legal system, similar language, and similar culture.
The same does not exist in Singapore. There’s a very real limit if you are not a state owned enterprise to expand in Singapore. There are only 5+ million, and even if you were to sell to 10% of the population, that’s only a customer base of 500,000.
The cost of expanding to the rest of Asia rises exponentially, with each region having a different legal system and consumer preferences.
This is the same reason why MNCs have such a tough time expanding in Asia too.
By expansion, I do not mean outsourcing their operations and production lines here, but actually creating a real and loyal customer base.
With these restraints, I think Singapore has companies that have done startlingly well despite everything against them.
I exclude state-owned companies, or companies that were formerly state owned like Singpost, Starhub or Singtel.
The following listed companies have been built from scratch, and are to me, great businesses in their own right:
- Challenger Technologies (573.SI)
- Popular Holdings (P29.SI)
- The Hour Glass (E5P.SI)
- ABR Holdings (Swensens, Gloria Jeans) (533.SI)
- Old Chang Kee (5ML.SI)
Another local company which is famous on the world stage is Razer, founded by Min-Liang Tan (a former law graduate). They produce professional gaming hardware.
They may not necessarily be “exciting” businesses, but they have commendable track records and a long and rich history. Most of these brands are well known to everyone in Singapore, which is a remarkable achievement on its own.
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All views and opinions articulated in the article were expressed in Jun Hao’s personal capacity and do not in any way represent those of his employer and other related entities. Jun Hao does not own any shares in the companies mentioned above.