Leveraging Technology To Drive Sustainability

PETRONAS redefines the future of energy with its hydrogen-derived energy solutions.

PETRONAS has been increasingly adopting technology to drive its sustainability goals over the past two decades, underscoring the importance of the energy giant’s sustainability agenda in everything it does to safeguard people, planet and profits for generations to come.

The company continues to institute positive changes by elevating its operational excellence and optimizing costs, while investing boldly in technologically driven solutions. These investments will shape the future of energy as the industry gradually transitions into a lower carbon economy through the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Hydrogen Energy Technology

While fossil fuels remain as a key source of energy around the world, PETRONAS is redefining its offerings by investing in hydrogen-derived energy as a cleaner source of fuel.

Today, hydrogen is one of the many complementary clean energy vectors that can be transformed into sustainable energy. This helps to protect the environment as hydrogen-derived energy lessens dependency on fossil fuels, lowers pollution and cuts greenhouse gases that are harmful to the earth.

Developing new solutions such as hydrogen-derived energy demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainability. To drive this new journey, PETRONAS Hydrogen was established in 2020 under the group’s Gas and New Energy business division, which aims to become an end-to-end solution provider of hydrogen.

PETRONAS builds upon its experience in extracting blue hydrogen from its facilities and as a world-renowned reliable LNG supplier to expand its renewable energy portfolio and vast natural gas resources. The company has collaborated with Malaysia’s hydropower suppliers to explore commercial production of green hydrogen by leveraging on Malaysia’s rich and renewable natural resources.

PETRONAS has collaborated with both long-standing and new customers to develop a competitive hydrogen supply chain. Through these partnerships, PETRONAS is pursuing projects such as the optimization of blue and green hydrogen production and conversion of liquid hydrogen into ammonia or methylcyclohexane as a solution to store and transport hydrogen. With such projects, the company’s continued engineering innovations as well as research and development capabilities, PETRONAS believes that it can provide clean and cost-competitive hydrogen solutions to its customers.

From Biomass to Energy

PETRONAS’ innovative technology produces Bio-MEG from palm biomass.

Another sustainable initiative PETRONAS is investing in is the world’s first direct conversion technology, which converts palm biomass into renewable products. This innovative technology uses palm oil’s empty fruit brunches, a sustainable material that does not interfere with food chain supply, to create Bio-MEG.

Driven by PETRONAS Chemicals Group Berhad (PCG), this initiative demonstrates PETRONAS’ commitment to sustainability. The company has plans to create value by converting abundantly available biomass in Malaysia into a sustainable alternative feedstock, aimed at creating renewable chemical products for markets such as packaging, textiles, automotive and electronics. PCG will showcase these production capabilities through an integrated pilot facility in 2022.

As a progressive energy company, PETRONAS aims to reduce carbon emissions and is committed to be part of the solution to manage the impact of climate change by developing innovative solutions for generations to come. The company’s diversified energy portfolio, along with its evolving new energy business, will provide a platform for cleaner energy solutions for a more sustainable future.


A Trusted Partner In An Uncertain World

Siew Meng Tan, Regional Head of HSBC Global Private Banking, Asia Pacific

Amid ongoing uncertainties brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, signs of optimism have emerged in global markets as economies reopen and consumer confidence returns. Yet, risks remain and these will have an impact on investment decisions and portfolio management.

Leveraging the expertise and international connectivity of a global financial institution, HSBC Global Private Banking supports high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals and their families across Asia Pacific as they seek opportunities amid the turbulence.

“The last two years have been very volatile and our clients are looking to us for guidance,” says Siew Meng Tan, Regional Head of HSBC Global Private Banking in Asia Pacific. “As such, we are working hard to help our clients grow, manage and sustain their wealth, while opening up a world of opportunity to them.”

Another important theme is the revival of Asia in the coming years, particularly growth areas that will emerge in the post-pandemic era such as healthcare and education.

“In response to the pandemic, Asia has turned towards technological innovation, the net-zero transition, and continued growth in consumption to drive its growth in the long term,” Tan says.

Achieving Optimal Diversification

With the pandemic making risk management more important than ever, HSBC Global Private Banking aims to help investors diversify their portfolios across assets and geographies in the most optimal way possible.

Asian investors who have traditionally focused on public markets are now increasingly investing in private assets and alternative investments to help reduce volatility and improve yields, Tan says. The growing interest in alternatives speaks to one of the bank’s core strengths. Trade publication Asian Private Banker named HSBC Global Private Banking the Best Private Bank for Alternatives Advisory for the third consecutive year.

“Investing in private markets allows you to take a more medium to longer term view without being impacted by the volatility associated with public markets,” Tan says. “This resonates very well with investors who want a more diversified portfolio.”

Tan also sees rising demand for structured products which enable investors to more effectively take a view on where they believe the market is headed. “If you think a particular stock has a limited upside, or it is going down, they can express it through structured products,” she explains. “Such products can also provide access to more niche asset classes such as commodities.”

Geographical diversification has also become more important for ultra-high net worth families, Tan says. Spreading their wealth across multiple jurisdictions bodes well for these clients as their next-generation members increasingly prefer to live in different parts of the world. “We are talking about families with global lifestyles, and this is where our international network and expertise can help them diversify their wealth more effectively.”

Meeting Changing Wealth Needs

The needs of ultra-high net worth families are likely to vary and evolve over time. This is especially true in Asia where much of the wealth has been accumulated by entrepreneurs who built and continue to run successful businesses. HSBC has supported many of these entrepreneurial families through the years, developing an intimate understanding of their needs across businesses, private wealth, and even generations.

By leveraging on HSBC’s universal bank model, its private bankers are able to meet these ever-changing needs at every stage of the clients’ wealth journey by bringing to bear the full capabilities of the entire group.

“This is where HSBC is able to support them, not just on the personal front, but also in terms of their business needs through our commercial banking and markets divisions,” Tan says. “As many Asian businesses today are global in nature, HSBC’s global connectivity allows us to offer our solutions wherever our clients have a presence.”

Investing in Digital

As private banking clients become more plugged into technology, HSBC is engaging them through various digital channels such as mobile apps that enable remote transactions or through communication platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat.

“If we want to eff ectively serve our clients’ needs, then our digitalisation drive is of utmost importance,” Tan says. “If we are not interacting with them through channels that they are regularly utilising, then I think we wouldn’t be in a position to compete. Digitalisation is an absolute strategic priority for us. Our clients are very busy and sometimes it’s difficult for them to find the time to call us. We want them to have an online platform where they can safely discuss their investments anywhere and anytime, at their own convenience.”

Reflecting the bank’s commitment to digitalisation, Tan said HSBC Global Private Banking is investing more than US$100 million in Asia over a two-year period to build and innovate its core banking and digital platforms.

HSBC’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Among the seven awards HSBC Global Private Banking received from Asian Private Banker this year are the Best Private Bank for Client Experience and blue-ribbon Best Private Bank in Asia Pacific, accolades that reflect the strides it has taken to deliver industry-leading client offerings and services.

Looking ahead, HSBC Global Private Banking will continue to craft solutions that are designed to support their clients as they progress on their wealth journeys in a landscape marked by constant disruptions.

“As one of the world’s leading private banks, we pride ourselves on being able to understand the needs of our clients and the market environment to bring personalised solutions,” Tan says. “This is delivered through our global network, our universal banking model, as well as the investments that we are making into digital.”





The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice. Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.


Metaverse: From Dream To Reality

For many years, the concept of the metaverse—a term used to describe the next evolution of the internet and a virtual world where people can socialize, work and play—has been merely a dream, or perhaps a vision, for technopreneurs.

This is understandable given that the development of a metaverse requires advancements in multiple technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), wearables, blockchain and cloud computing. However, with the progress made by tech companies in recent years, metaverses are on course to become a reality sooner rather than later.

Creating Happiness with the Translucia Metaverse

T&B Media Global Founder and CEO, Dr. Jwanwat Ahriyavraromp

Over the past year, many large global companies—from tech giants such as Alphabet and Meta (formerly known as Facebook) to consumer products like Coca-Cola and Nike—have shown growing interest in metaverses.

But interest in metaverses is not only being generated by US-based corporations. Bangkok-headquartered T&B Media Global has also announced ambitious plans to develop its own metaverse. T&B Media Global Founder and CEO Dr. Jwanwat Ahriyavraromp calls the company’s creation Translucia: a metaverse designed to contribute to the society and economy by “transforming the way we live and experience life.”

Unlike other metaverses, however, Ahriyavraromp sees Translucia serving a greater purpose. “Like other metaverses, Translucia is an integration of advanced technologies, imagination and creativity. Unlike other metaverses, Translucia focuses on creating happiness, not only from external sources but also internally from one’s mind and body,” he says.

A Four-level Metaverse

The Translucia Metaverse, into which T&B Media Global is investing US$300 million (10 billion baht), will comprise four key levels: Central Translucia, Pillars of Nature, Nature’s True Home and Beyond Boundless.

According to Ahriyavraromp, Central Translucia—also known as the Central Hub of Limitless Opportunities—is a place where you can pursue various interests, and where dreams can become real. The Pillars of Nature comprises various fascinating ecosystems, including flora and fauna, to be explored and discovered, while in Nature’s True Home, users have access to a “hidden realm of nature’s wonders and enchantments” that, Ahriyavraromp says, is “a special world where you can choose your destiny as nature’s guardian.”

As for Beyond Boundless, Ahriyavraromp describes it as “a place where the mind and soul will find rest and be lifted by those we love and trust.”

Endless Possibilities

Unlike other Metaverses, Translucia focuses on creating happiness, not only from external sources but also internally from one’s mind and body.

At December’s Metaverse Unlimited, the first international forum organized by Translucia, metaverse experts from around the world agreed that there are endless possibilities in terms of how metaverses can benefit mankind.

Pat Pataranutaporn, Research Assistant and Ph.D. candidate at MIT Media Lab, believes technologies that enable the metaverse can help humans to stay healthier through closed-loop wearables. Humans are also able to make better decisions with human-AI symbiosis, and learn better with AI-generated characters, he adds.

Pataranutaporn also says that, by having wearables that are able to tap into the body’s biological information, visiting clinics and hospitals for health checkups may become a thing of the past, while wearable technologies capable of producing medicine within a person’s body are also a possibility. “Now, with the advancement in synthetic biology, we can have the capability to use bacteria cells in the body as a living medicine factory,” he says.

He also sees the metaverse playing another big role in Thailand, which is increasingly becoming an aging society. “With technologies that enable the metaverse, we can potentially live a healthier lifestyle, and even live longer. As you are aware, Thailand is becoming an aging society. So, we need to think of ways we can help those people and create society wisdom, so that we can empower the younger generation to create a better future,” he says.

Meanwhile, Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer and CEO of the Futures Intelligence Group, says the fashion and entertainment industries have been showing interest in the metaverse, with Ariana Grande performing a concert on Fortnite, a popular multiplayer video game, and Nike acquiring RTFKT, a company that designs assets that are only available virtually.

“The metaverse presents itself as a realm of infinite possibilities and opportunities, like unexplored planets in outer space,” Hackl says.

Building a Better World

Although AI, which is a key building block for the metaverse, has its suites of benefits, including the advancement of healthcare, pharmaceuticals and education, Jeanne Lim, Co-Founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based beingAI, says humans are becoming “increasingly disconnected from the positive impacts of AI.”

She explains that the disconnection is partly due to fear of AI taking over from humanity and taking our jobs, as well as a distrust of the technology, for example deepfake videos.

“However, we do have a choice in how we design technology, and how we engage with technology,” says Lim. “If we want machines to understand us, understand our values, so that they can make better decisions for us, we have to engage with them. I believe that positive human-AI interactions can elevate the human experience.”

While technology is a key building block for the metaverse, Lim says she believes that the most important building block for the metaverse is human wisdom—after all, it is humans who will be designing the AIs.

“We have to start with human wisdom in order to put the rocks in the right place. Overall, this may be our last chance of building a better world. To me, the metaverse is not something we enter, it is something we build as a human race,” she says.

Creating Purpose and Legacy

Understanding that the metaverse and its related technologies can bring enormous benefits—and sometimes harm—to humankind, Ahriyavraromp believes it is vital for Translucia Metaverse to maintain its goal of creating happiness, both externally and from within.

“Translucia is driven by an engine that we envision will create goodness, prosperity, wellness and, ultimately, happiness. Translucia defines goodness as being good to others, to the world, and to yourself. By doing so, we at Translucia are changing the traditional definition of P&L—from profit and loss, to purpose and legacy.”

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Beximco Communications Delivers A New World Of TV Entertainment To Bangladesh

Beximco Communications is breaking new ground in Bangladesh’s entertainment and media sector by leveraging its position as an innovation leader and a pioneer in digital content viewing.

In May 2019, the company launched AKASH—the country’s first-ever direct to home (DTH) television service—with the vision to build a world class digital entertainment ecosystem for Bangladesh. That’s a breakthrough for a country where only 63% of households, or about 23.4 million, have TVs, more than 95% of which are analogue.

“This service has changed the face of the television landscape by allowing every person in a primarily analogue landscape to have access to premium quality digital entertainment,” says Shayan F. Rahman, Chairman of Beximco Communications. “This access to more programming and new content choices will provide support in the continued development and transformation of the nation in the fields of education, health, culture, sports, employment and many other areas.”

With superior picture and sound qualities, AKASH DTH offers a wide range of popular Bangladeshi and foreign TV  channels including the world’s biggest sporting events. Beximco will continue to add quality local and foreign content going forward, as well as introduce services such as video on demand and over-the-top media services.

AKASH allows its subscribers the convenience of managing their own accounts for content they wish to subscribe to at their fingertips, while giving them real-time access to customer support 24 x 7. The service is a fully prepaid platform, which means customers don’t have to deal with post-paid billing and payment hassles which is not possible with traditional pay TV operators. This also ensures that the right amount of taxes are paid on all connections and that no tax revenue is lost to the government.

Access To Remote Areas

Being the first operator of DTH service in Bangladesh, Beximco has made significant capital outlay to establish a country wide distribution network, while at the same time marketing the service and building strong brand recognition and product/service loyalty for AKASH.

As consumers increasingly shift towards high-definition and 4K televisions, Bangladeshis won’t fully experience the potential of these advanced products unless they subscribe to AKASH. The DTH service can bridge this gap by offering a technologically superior digital connection that can deliver the picture and sound quality that consumers desire. AKASH is the only player in Bangladesh PayTV industry which offers true HD picture & Dolby audio.

“There is vast scope for expansion and growth especially in the rural and cable dark areas. With the government’s commitment to Digital Bangladesh and subsequently making the digitalization of the television network compulsory, demand will only accelerate and AKASH DTH is perfectly positioned to be the digital broadcasting platform of choice..”


With its satellite-based coverage, AKASH can reach all parts of the country, including remote geographies that pose logistical challenges for conventional cable TV operators. The company has also been working to create a skilled service and distribution infrastructure to service deep rural areas with no access to cable TV services.

To enhance the customer experience, AKASH offers customised packages that cater to all customer segments. The service comes with features such as value-for-money offerings, personal video recording, parental controls and program reminders.

Robust Digital TV Demand

“There is vast scope for expansion and growth especially in the rural and cable dark areas,” says Rahman. “With the government’s commitment to Digital Bangladesh and subsequently making the digitalization of the television network compulsory, demand will only accelerate and AKASH DTH is perfectly positioned to be the digital broadcasting platform of choice.”

The future looks bright for AKASH DTH with the PayTV segment in Bangladesh projected to be a multibillion-dollar industry in the next five years. The number of TVs per household is expected to grow substantially due to differing content preferences across gender and age groups, resulting in a corresponding rise in the number of connections per household.

TV viewing has surged and has effectively become an essential service during the pandemic. Against this backdrop, Beximco has continued to install and establish connections for new subscribers, under the strictest guidelines and safety management measures. It has also invested in a contactless transactions platform that provides customers self-help tools and a self- care portal integrated with social media messaging services for related matters.

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Thai Government Rolls Out Policies To Boost Economic Growth Post Pandemic

Jurin Laksanawisit, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Thai economy is on track to expand 3.9% this year after posting a modest 1% growth in 2021 as consumption and business activities return to pre-pandemic levels, according to the World Bank.

The Southeast Asian economy has come a long way since contracting 6.1% at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, thanks to the government’s initiatives to bolster economic growth by encouraging domestic consumption, supporting local entrepreneurs and promoting exports.

With the policies in place, the twin pillars of the economy: domestic consumption and exports are poised for even higher growth. Exports are predicted to grow by at least 5% this year, while private investments will likely increase between 4% and 6%, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

“We are promoting the consumption of Thai products to build confidence and also to encourage the use of our products as raw materials to create added value,” says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit, adding that Thailand will be focusing on programs that have already proven themselves successful.

The government is also bolstering the new economy by promoting and developing online marketing platforms. “We are developing entrepreneurs to take advantage of the platform economy and online commerce,” Jurin says.

To stimulate innovation and encourage younger generations to become involved in the economy, “we will continue our initiative on human resource development for students to build more entrepreneurs,” says Jurin. “One of our programs, from Gen Z to CEO, focuses on helping the youth become entrepreneurs. In 2021 we had 20,000 participants and we aim to have another 20,000 this year.”

To build sustainable growth, the government is promoting environment friendly economic development using the bio-circular green (BCG) economic model, which leverages technology and innovation to add value to goods and services while mitigating negative environmental and sustainability impacts. The BCG model will be applied in agriculture and food; health and medical; energy, materials and biochemicals; as well as tourism and creative economy.

Thailand will apply the bio-circular green (BCG) economic model in agriculture and food; health and medical; energy, materials and biochemicals; as well as tourism and creative economy.

To support exports, Thailand will foster closer cooperation with members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. “We look forward to closer cooperation with APEC member countries as Thailand will host APEC this year,” Jurin says. “We are also redoubling efforts to expedite trade between Thailand and other markets, including China, the US, the EU, countries in the Middle East and Russia.”

In addition to bilateral trade agreements, “we will also be working on more sub-country trade agreements,” says Jurin. Thailand will continue to forge trade agreements with markets in state, provincial or regional areas instead of whole countries. After signing sub-country trade deals with Hainan, China and Kofu, Japan last year, Thailand plans to seal similar accords with other localities in China and India.



Harps Drives Growth Through Sustainability And ESG Principles

HARPS sees its diverse workforce as the company’s most important asset.

HARPS’ philosophy is built upon four fundamental strategy pillars—evolutionary innovation; commercial and supply chain excellence; human capital development; and operational excellence— which are known internally as ECHO.

Haziq bin Zairel Oh, Founder, Managing Director and CEO of HARPS, was brought up and guided by his father, the late Mr. Oh Tiam Sing, who worked in the glove industry for more than 25 years and who was one of the pioneers of nitrile gloves in Malaysia. Haziq established HARPS in 2015 as an investment company and assembled a key senior management team. Armed with more than 20 years of experience in the rubber industry, and thus possessing a keen understanding of the unique complexities of glove-making, they worked together to manage and lead HARPS and its subsidiaries strategically on their business journey.

Investing in the Future

HARPS acquired Central Medicare Sdn. Bhd. (CMSB) and New Era Medicare Sdn. Bhd. (NEM) in 2015, and has invested approximately RM1.1 billion (US$261 million) in its glove business over the years. Today, via CMSB, it is operating in OEM mode to manufacture and market high-quality nitrile examination gloves. NEM, meanwhile, conducts R&D, and is involved in the manufacturing and distribution of surgical and specialty gloves.

Under CMSB, HARPS currently has 34 production lines with a total annual installed capacity of 11.6 billion gloves, representing an impressive tenfold increase within six years.

Further expansion plans are also underway, and HARPS has invested in building two more manufacturing blocks in addition to its existing four blocks. This will help increase the annual installed capacity to 19.5 billion gloves by 2023.

In 2020, the total global export volume of gloves was approximately 382 billion gloves. As a proportion of global export market share, HARPS held approximately 2% in both volume and value of sales. As of November 2021, HARPS has more than 35 customers across four continents, with the largest proportion coming from the U.S., followed by Asia and Europe. The application of HARPS’ gloves ranges from food safety and industrial to medical and PPE barrier protection.

R&D at the Forefront

HARPS fosters an innovative culture driven by R&D and talent development, with the belief that innovation is necessary to ensure business competitiveness and sustainability. As of October 31, 2021, HARPS has 33 personnel involved in delivering innovations to support product and process development, engineering innovation, technical support and product stewardship. The various application solutions that HARPS has introduced include: eco-friendly malachite gloves with a lower carbon footprint, which is quantified by a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment; gloves with high permeation resistance for chemotherapy; gloves with resistance to specific chemicals; and gloves with low dermatitis potential.

Central Medicare Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary of HARPS, operates a manufacturing plant in Teluk Intan, Perak, Malaysia.

Addressing the changing demands of the market over the years, HARPS has fulfilled various customer requirements via successful R&D projects. Based on customer requests, HARPS has managed to decrease the thickness and weight of its gloves, from 3.5 grams in 2015 to 2.7 grams, without compromising on the tensile strength of its products. In addition, HARPS continues to invest in fundamental formulation and material science know-how to enhance its product quality, optimize productivity and ultimately leverage on the hand-barrier protection performance of its products.

HARPS’ state-of-the-art, self-designed glove dipping lines are equipped to produce the highest quality nitrile gloves.

HARPS is also investing in operational innovation, process optimization, automation and digitalization in line with Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0), with an initial investment amounting to RM30 million (US$7 million) to continuously improve the efficiency of manufacturing control.

Sustainability and Beyond

Mindful of shifting global priorities, HARPS is working hard to integrate sustainability as not only one of its core values, but also as a key element in its business operations. To chart its path for the future, HARPS has implemented a five-year sustainability roadmap to focus on five key pillars: integrated business strategy, people, environmental, health and safety, and governance and compliance. HARPS’ ESG initiatives are also aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As reflected in its ECHO strategy and its sustainability roadmap, the people element and human capital development are priorities for HARPS. Viewing its workforce as the company’s most important asset, HARPS places the utmost importance on employee welfare, attributing its continued success to the contribution and commitment of each member of staff. As an illustration of this, the firm has invested heavily in learning and development programs to upskill employees, and has subscribed to globally recognized ethical audit procedures.

HARPS became a member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) in 2019 and has since undergone two Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audits. These are based on the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, which focuses on the four key pillars of labor standards, business ethics, health and safety, and environment.

The Phase I Permanent Hostel is part of HARPS’ RM50 million (US$12 million) investment to improve the welfare of the company’s workers.

In line with its growth plans, CMSB is expected to expand its workforce from 2,600 to 3,500 staff by 2023. As a growing employer, HARPS implements sound labor practices guided by the International Labour Organization’s 11 forced labor indicators, which include providing a platform for workers to speak out (via a workers’ representative committee) and ensuring that there is no unlawful withholding or deduction of workers’ salaries. A zero-recruitment fee policy is also among the various ESG practices implemented by HARPS, which amounts to a spend of more than RM12 million (US$2.85 million) to date. To improve the living conditions of its foreign workers, meanwhile, HARPS has built permanent hostels that have been assessed by Malaysia’s Ministry of Human Resources, and which hold valid Certificates for Accommodation.

Ultimately, by drawing on its deeply held corporate values, HARPS is on track to bring the principles of sustainability to every part of its business as it continues to grow.


Indonesia: Emerging Stronger

Investors are keen to ride on Indonesia’s rebound.

As Indonesia emerges from the pandemic, businesses and investors are looking to ride on the country’s rebound from an unprecedented crisis. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in a report released late September, the Indonesian economy is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2021, and by 4.8% in 2022, underpinned by robust exports and government spending. Supportive fiscal policy and accommodative monetary policy will also help boost growth.

Meanwhile, private consumption is projected to recover modestly before rising by 5% next year, ADB said. Investment should also strengthen in 2022 as conditions stabilize and the business climate improves.

Indonesia’s economy had a relatively mild downturn in 2020, thanks to the government’s bold, timely policies to provide fiscal stimulus and social assistance to the vulnerable to prevent long-term economic scarring. It continued to recover in the first half of 2021 due to those same policies and strong exports,” said Jiro Tominaga, ADB Country Director for Indonesia.

Keen Investor Interest

The confidence in Southeast Asia’s largest economy is reflected in rising investment in the country’s dynamic tech sector. Indonesia’s digital economy is projected to grow by almost 50% this year on the back of rapid development in the e-commerce segment, a trend that is expected to continue until at least 2025 according to the “e-Conomy SEA 2021” report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company. The report estimates that Indonesia’s internet economy—measured in gross merchandise value—will grow to US$70 billion this year, up 49% from US$47 billion last year.

Venture capital (VC) firm Alpha JWC Ventures has capitalized on keen investor interest in tech start-ups to continue its winning streak in Indonesia over the past year. With three Indonesia-based unicorns already in its portfolio, the firm’s portfolio of companies managed to raise over a billion dollars so far in 2021 amid the pandemic.

Going forward, Alpha JWC Ventures plans to double down on Indonesia’s tech sector. With the recent close of its latest, and largest fund, the firm will be able to increase its investment ticket size significantly, and partner with its portfolio companies for longer periods. The VC’s Indonesia-focused investment approach has been validated by global organizations such as the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, who have invested in the latest fund.

Domestic Leaders Continue to Dominate

Meanwhile, Indonesian companies in more traditional sectors have also prospered during this challenging time. As the largest and most successful bread company in Indonesia, PT Nippon Indosari Corpindo Tbk continued its domestic dominance, commanding a 90% share of the country’s mass-produced bread market.

Indonesian SMEs are leveraging digitalization to find new avenues of growth.

The company’s strategy to focus on developing Indonesia’s bread market has yielded positive results, and the company’s quarterly sales are already returning to pre-pandemic levels, boosted by wider distribution coverage and higher penetration. Profitability margins are also set to expand, underpinned by improved productivity and efficient cost management.

PT Arwana Citramulia Tbk, Indonesia’s ceramic tile industry leader, is another case in point. The company’s early decision to spread out its manufacturing to five locations around the country has kept costs low and its operations efficient, helping it to navigate the turbulence and maintain its leadership position. The company is also expanding into new market segments. Its latest plant, for instance, was set up to produce a new product, glazed porcelain tiles, called ARNA.

Transforming to Fuel Growth

Other companies have also pivoted their businesses to adjust to changing customer and market needs. Indonesian conglomerate Emtek Group, for instance, has managed to stay ahead of the competition by transforming from a conventional free-to-air television broadcaster into a multi-channel, multi-platform digital media company.

Today, the group owns three free-to-air television stations, one direct-to-home satellite television operator, a leading over-the-top streaming platform, an ecosystem of digital publishers, and a series of content and production companies, among other assets.

While Emtek has helped Indonesian businesses by providing them multiple platforms to showcase their products, its associate company Bukalapak is helping small businesses in the country grow. Enterprises that sign up to the Bukalapak app have access to buying millions of different products at the best wholesale prices for resale into their local community, as well as the ability to offer digital services to their customers; including paying utility bills, moving remittance money, buying travel tickets and even investing in digital gold.

Access to innovative financial solutions will play a key role in driving Indonesia’s long term economic expansion. In this regard, Bank Mandiri, the largest financial institution in Indonesia, is committed to delivering relevant financial products and services to its customers around the country. This is part of the bank’s broader mission to seamlessly integrate its financial solutions into its customers’ lives by delivering fast and simple digital banking solutions.

Pertamina is utilising solar panels at its refinery in Central Java.

In the energy sector, Indonesia’s Pertamina is also committed to transforming its operations to contribute to a low-carbon economy as it works towards building a sustainable business by transitioning to greater use of clean energy. In particular, the country’s national energy provider has set its sights on the development of geothermal, hydro- and solar-based power generation. As part of this transition, it has announced plans to support the nation’s effort to decarbonize, starting with reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, by 30% before 2030.

These progressive companies have leveraged technology and innovation to grow sustainable businesses, and will lead Indonesia’s recovery as it shakes off the effects of the pandemic in the coming years.

Hong Kong Breaks New Ground In Wealth Management

Hong Kong’s private wealth management industry has remained resilient in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to the sound asset management of established groups and the tech-fueled boom by first-generation entrepreneurs.

Total assets under management rose 21% to HK$34 trillion (US$4.4 trillion) in 2020 from the year before, while private banking and private wealth management increased 25% to US$11.3 trillion, data from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) show. “Hong Kong is already well in the game but the question is how we can remain relevant amid the stiffer global competition,” says Laurence Li, Chairman of the Hong Kong Financial Services Development Council (FSDC).

FSDC believes the Wealth Management Connect (WMC) would enhance the special administrative region’s already transparent regulatory framework, technology-friendly environment and professional talent pool. With its proximity to the mainland and experience in serving the China market, Hong Kong is poised to maintain its premier position in the wealth management market.

Major Breakthrough

The WMC is a major breakthrough in which retail investment funds domiciled in Hong Kong and authorised by the SFC will be eligible for the scheme instead of the traditional product by product approval approach. “With the abundance of a 1.3 million high net worth individual (HNWI) population and US$6.5 trillion of HNWI wealth, China offers tremendous demand for private wealth management services,” FSDC said in a report.

Hong Kong’s family offices—which comprise a high-end subset of the private wealth management business—are becoming increasingly important to the whole financial services industry because of the business potential inherent in their massive AUM as well as financial centre’s overall wealth management capabilities.

There has been robust growth in family offices globally in recent years, with the number of single family offices worldwide climbing 38% to 7,300 in 2019 from the 2017 level, according to Campden Research. Asia led the increase, recording a 44% growth in the same period, the fastest in the world. Hong Kong can leverage this strong regional growth momentum and further develop into Asia’s hub for family offices.

With its mature and sophisticated financial markets, Hong Kong can meet the investment needs of wealthy families. These families can depend on Hong Kong’s robust regulatory and legal framework as well as its predictable tax system that helps to ensure protection for their assets. The city’s close ties with the mainland also makes it the ideal investment gateway into and out of China.

Key Growth Segment

After FSDC published a report on “Family Wisdom: A Family Office in Hong Kong” in July 2020, Chief Executive Carrie Lam acknowledged in her policy address last year the high growth of the family office business, which she says has become an important segment in the wealth and asset management industry.

FSDC has provided recommendations to further develop Hong Kong as a hub for family offices, encompassing four key areas: regulatory requirement, tax considerations, talent development and setting up of one-stop liaison and services centre. In line with the recommendations, FamilyOfficeHK was established under InvestHK to promote Hong Kong in local and major international markets, while offering one-stop support services to family offices seeking to establish their presence in the city.

The private sector has also expanded their services in the city. For instance, HSBC has launched a new institutional family office service in Hong Kong. The bank is also investing US$3.5 billion and hiring more than 5,000 new wealth planners to grow its business in Asia over the next three to five years as part of a broader regional expansion.

Greater Asian Interest

“We are seeing greater interest from Asian clients who are setting up and expanding family offices to adopt institutional approaches to build continuity, diversification and resilience in their investment portfolios,” said Siew Meng Tan, Regional Head of HSBC Private Banking, Asia Pacific.

Other international banks including UBS, JPMorgan and DBS are also building their family office units in Hong Kong. “When I first joined the bank, private banking was mainly about managing our client’s personal investments,” says Amy Lo, Co-Head of UBS Wealth Management for Asia Pacific and concurrently Head and Chief Executive of UBS Hong Kong Branch. Over time, the industry gradually transformed into wealth management, says Lo, who is also a member of FSDC’s council board. “Now, we have to take care of the clients’ needs including their families and businesses. It goes beyond investment. It is a holistic approach to managing their total wealth.”

With Hong Kong offering a broader spectrum of green and alternative investment opportunities that are popular among family offices, such as wine and art investments, the city is well placed to accommodate the diversified investment needs of family offices. These unique advantages make Hong Kong a natural choice for family offices looking to deepen their presence in the Asia Pacific region.

Hong Kong broadly defines family offices as single family offices (SFOs) and multi-family offices (MFOs). SFOs are set up by a single family and exclusively serves the needs of that family, while MFOs serve multiple families who may or may not be related to each other. Some MFOs are owned by third parties and operate like asset management companies.

In January 2020, the SFC issued a circular on the licensing framework for family offices, which provided guidance on regulating family offices intending to carry out asset management and other services in Hong Kong. If an SFO is not being run as a business, a license isn’t required, according to the regulatory framework.

Hong Kong’s wealth management industry is leveraging technology to tap increasing opportunities amid a rapid growth in wealth across Asia. With new technologies such as robo-advisors, artificial intelligence and virtual reality transforming the industry, asset managers are embracing technology to keep up with the latest innovations.


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Beximco Pharmaceuticals Puts High-Quality Medicines Within Everyone’s Reach

In November 2021, Bangladesh-based Beximco Pharmaceuticals made international headlines with the launch of the world’s first generic molnupiravir, an oral antiviral drug for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate forms of COVID-19. Developed by U.S. firms Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, molnupiravir represents a major breakthrough in addressing the world’s current greatest health challenge, with interim data published by MSD showing that it reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death by around 50%. Beximco’s branded generic version of molnupiravir is being marketed as Emorivir.

This follows on from Beximco’s May 2020 launch, at the height of the pandemic, of the world’s first generic version of remdesivir—branded as Bemsivir—an antiviral drug developed by U.S. firm Gilead Sciences that has been effective in treating COVID-19 patients.

Beximco was allowed to produce these generic copies under a pharmaceutical patent waiver granted by the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for the least developed countries. The company, which is considered a pioneer in providing access to breakthrough drugs at affordable prices, leveraged its competitive cost advantages and strong experience to be able to make these potentially life-saving treatment options at substantially cheaper prices than the originator brands.

“Further to our launch of the first generic remdesivir at the start of the pandemic, the launch of a generic version of molnupiravir is another example of Beximco Pharma’s ability to rapidly respond to make affordable treatments available to patients suffering from COVID-19,” said Nazmul Hassan MP, Managing Director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals. “This is a great achievement for the company and one which we believe could play an important role in combating the pandemic, especially in low- and middle-income countries where access to vaccines has been limited.”

Over the past 12 months, Beximco has provided Bemsivir to public and private healthcare facilities in Bangladesh, and has also donated large quantities of the drug in several other countries. To date, the company has supplied Bemsivir to 22 countries including India, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Venezuela and Lebanon.

Exports to 50 Countries

Founded in 1978, Beximco started out importing medicines from multinational corporations (MNCs) such as U.S.-based Upjohn and Germany’s Bayer, before manufacturing the drugs locally under license. Today, Beximco has emerged as a leading exporter of medicines, with a global footprint in 50 countries around the world. Its success story is built on its unwavering commitment to quality and the dedication of its 5,000-strong workforce, driven by the company’s aspiration to be among the world’s most admired pharmaceutical companies.

Beximco began its export operations in 1992, exporting active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to Hong Kong, with Russia becoming its first export destination for formulation products the following year. Since then, the company has gradually expanded its overseas business, entering Singapore, one of the most stringent markets in Asia, in 2001. As a testament to its success, the company has won Bangladesh’s prestigious National Export Trophy (Gold) five times for its outstanding contribution to the country’s export.

Spanning an area of 23 acres in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Beximco’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities have been accredited by regulatory authorities in Australia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., among others. Through these facilities, the company has made great strides in its ability to produce high-quality drugs at prices up to 99% cheaper than their branded counterparts, thus making treatments and medicines accessible to millions of patients in developing countries.

In 2015, the company launched the world’s first generic version of Harvoni (Sofosbuvir plus Ledipasvir), the revolutionary drug to treat hepatitis C, and began selling it for around US$10 versus the originator’s price of US$1,130. It did the same when it launched the generic version of another groundbreaking hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi (Sofosbuvir).

COVID-19 Pledge

Out-of-pocket expenditure accounts for the bulk of the healthcare expenses in most low- and middle-income countries where access to breakthrough and highly expensive treatments is almost impossible. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an urgent need to find immediate solutions or medical interventions to save human lives. Rising to the challenge, in November 2020, Beximco and 17 leading global generic drug companies pledged to work together via the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to accelerate access to COVID-19 treatments for low- and middle-income countries. Among the other signatories to the MPP pledge are world-leading generic manufacturers such as Lupin, Aurobindo Pharma, Zydus Cadila, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Celltrion.

Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry has been at the forefront of driving the nation’s progress, with the country transforming itself from a net importer of medicines to an exporting nation over the past three decades—and Beximco has played a pioneering role. At present, Beximco is the country’s sole exporter of medicines to the U.S., which is also the largest export market for the company.

Looking to the future, Beximco aims to strengthen its presence in key emerging and developed markets. The company is also building a robust pipeline of value-added generic products for these markets, including a differentiated portfolio of metered dose inhalers, dry-powder inhalers and sterile ophthalmics. By collaborating with leading MNCs, it has developed new skills and conceived and implemented advanced, state-of-the-art technologies.

Rising healthcare costs have become a major challenge globally, with the high cost of medicines a serious concern for governments around the world. To address this, governments are promoting the use of generic drugs, which creates huge opportunities for generic drug producers like Beximco.

With its robust and highly compliant infrastructure, cost competitiveness, diverse portfolio and skilled manpower, Beximco has already emerged as an important generic drug player in Asia. As patents for branded or originator drugs expire, Beximco will be able to reinforce its differentiated value proposition, taking the opportunity to produce generic versions at significant scale and at a much lower cost, touching the lives of millions around the world by providing affordable access to life-saving medicines.

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Bayer Transforms Healthcare Across Asia Pacific

With chronic heart diseases and cancers among the leading causes of death in the Asia Pacific, German pharmaceutical and life sciences company Bayer is striving to address the growing medical needs of patients across the region.

As Asia Pacific economies boom in recent years, deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases have significantly increased, aggravated by consumers’ increasingly sedentary lifestyles and rapidly changing eating habits.

Recognizing the urgency of this chronic disease epidemic, Bayer has stepped up investments in research and development in Singapore, its regional hub for the past 50 years.

Strengthening the Heart

Last year, Bayer announced a five-year collaboration with the National Heart Centre Singapore to set up a research center to better understand the underlying causes of cardiovascular diseases, the region’s leading cause of deaths. Though preventive care and early screening are crucial to achieve better patient outcomes, patients typically delay consultation with the doctor until it’s too late.

Cases of heart failure—which affects more than 60 million people worldwide¹—is projected to increase drastically in the next decade.² A worsening heart condition sparks a downward health spiral and repeated hospitalizations, with 56% of patients returning to the hospital within 30 days. Each subsequent hospitalization raises the mortality rate, with one in five patients dying within two years of a worsening heart failure event.³

Among other innovations to lower the death rate from heart diseases, Bayer has introduced a new drug therapy that promotes smooth muscle relaxation and vasodilation, and reduces the likelihood of re-hospitalization for heart failure patients.‎⁴