From real estate to engineering several companies in Singapore are in a hunt for acquisitions abroad. This year through September, companies in the state announced around $91 billion of overseas deals which is more than double the transactions for the same period of 2017, says a Bloomberg report. Several companies are increasingly registering their biggest-ever transactions to put Singapore on the world stage.
The new acquisition activities show a fresh resolution by organizations to hold a more proactive stand amid the escalating trade war between China and the U.S. The economy, which is forecast to grow next year at the slowest pace since 2016, is also putting pressure on companies to look further for growth.
“We’re certainly seeing a desire among Singapore Inc. companies to globalize,” said David Biller, Citigroup Inc.’s head of Southeast Asia corporate and investment banking. “Many of the next-generation leadership teams in these organizations are helmed by executives with multinational experience and they bring a focus on cross-border growth.”
However, while the total value of deals is increasing, firms in Singapore were involved in 468 transactions as buyers of foreign companies so far this year which is an increase of 7.8 percent from the same period of 2017. Globally, M&A activity rose two percent, the report shows.
“Achieving organic growth in a relatively small market like Singapore is difficult, and building capabilities and scale will be increasingly important for corporates to stay relevant globally,” said Pankaj Goel, the co-head of Southeast Asia investment banking and capital markets at Credit Suisse Group AG. Singapore firms have been involved in 68 acquisitions of Chinese companies this year and the volume of transactions jumped from $3.8 billion the same period of 2017 to $19.5 billion, Bloomberg data show.
The biggest investment in a Chinese company was by a Singapore firm for $14 billion capital injection in Jack Ma’s Ant Financial. The financing, announced in June, included a U.S. dollar tranche part-backed by Temasek and GIC. Temasek’s other major transaction was its 3 billion-euro ($3.5 billion) injection to help Bayer AG finance its planned takeover of U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. GIC was also involved in Blackstone Group LP’s acquisition of a majority stake in Thomson Reuters Corp.’s financial and risk unit.
“The Singapore government has been encouraging companies for years to expand abroad to develop the country’s profile,” said CMC’s Lizza. “GIC and Temasek have been at the forefront of it.” With the driving force behind overseas acquisitions showing no sign of letting up, Singapore Inc. will continue its offshore push, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s head of M&A for Southeast Asia, Tay Ee Ching.
Firms are looking to acquire “new technologies, new sources of growth,” she said. “The trend should continue as they become more experienced in competing for assets abroad.”