Asia Accelerates Digitalization Amid Pandemic

With the Covid-19 outbreak wreaking havoc across industries and the global supply chain, governments and businesses around the world accelerated their digital transformation. Such initiatives have taken front seat in Asia—home to the world’s factories—with the region stepping up investments on technological innovations needed to power the new normal post the pandemic.

China—a regional leader in adopting cutting-edge artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud computing technologies—seeks to speed up the roll out of laws on protecting personal information as data analytics becomes prevalent in the country’s pursuit of smart nation status. The new regulations are embodied in its 14th five-year plan, which runs from 2021 to 2025.

South Korea has pledged to invest US$94 million in 2021 to support the tech industry in AI and 5G networks as part of its “Digital New Deal” initiative. Japan’s Growth Strategy Council has drafted a plan calling for the stimulation of innovation that involves digital transformation and grooming a greener society.

Countries across southeast Asia have launched their respective digitalization initiatives after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted the “Asean Digital Masterplan 2025”—a roadmap for the group’s digital cooperation from 2021 to 2025—in January.

In Indonesia, the “Making Indonesia 4.0” roadmap is helping the country’s industrial sector create new business models using digital technologies. Singapore’s plan is embodied in its Digital Government Blueprint, which aims to better leverage data and harness new technologies. In Thailand, the government has introduced the “Thailand 4.0” economic model, which utilizes digitalization to enhance the quality of life in the country.

Malaysia’s MyDIGITAL, which was launched in February, aims to transform the country into a regional leader in the digital economy. Under the blueprint, the government aims to attract US$16.5 billion worth of digital investments to boost the contribution of digital products and services to the country’s GDP to 22.6% by 2025 from 19.1% currently.

Focus On Cyber Security

To coordinate and manage new digital investments, the Malaysian Digital Economy Corp. (MDEC) has teamed up with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority to set up the Digital Investment Office (DIO). Initiatives run by the DIO will be guided by MDEC’s “Digital Investments Future5” strategy.

A key initiative in Malaysia’s digital transformation strategy calls for the fortification of the country’s cyber security defences. This is important given the growing threat of ransomware attacks—where cyber criminals steal data, encrypt and hold the digital infrastructure hostage until organizations pay the ransom, according to U.S.-based FireEye Mandiant.

The security specialist warns that governments and businesses urgently need to take prompt and preventive action to safe-guard their critical infrastructure against cyberattacks. Organizations can no longer treat cyber security as an inconvenient byproduct of doing business but must be engineered from the ground up.

To do so effectively, organizations must conduct a comprehensive audit, identify the weak spots and work with experts who can implement automated solutions to deal with cyber security threats and breaches.

ASEAN Cooperation

Throughout its history, the ASEAN has been resilient against economic and geopolitical crisis that has affected member countries in the past and more so now that the group is battling the challenges of the lingering Covid-19 pandemic. To recover and thrive again, the region would need to strengthen their cooperation.

“The digital economy is critical,” Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN secretary general, said at a webinar organized by the CIMB Asean Research Institute in July 2020. “As you know, the pandemic has forced a lot of people to use digital technology and it is very refreshing to see that every one of us has adapted. In future, the economic driver will very much be in this area. We are looking at how best to use this as part of our post-pandemic recovery plan.”

Beximco: Leading The Way To Sustainable Fashion

With climate change seen as the most pressing global challenge over the next decade, more consumers are rewarding businesses that place sustainability at the top of their corporate agenda.

This scrutiny has been especially heavy in the textiles industry, which is traditionally seen as a major contributor to global warming. The sector emits an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, surpassing emissions from airlines and maritime industries combined.

Against this backdrop, Bangladesh’s Beximco has emerged as a global leader in sustainable fashion manufacturing. Founded 26 years ago, the company counts Amazon, Bershka, Marks & Spencer, Michael Kors, Pull & Bear, Target and Zara among its customers.

Amid rising demand for ethically-produced clothes, the company has put sustainability at the heart of its operations by employing a range of advanced manufacturing and supply chain management solutions—from using recycled materials to adopting an on demand manufacturing model—to meet the changing needs of its customers.

With its investments in sustainable and financially viable projects, Beximco is at the forefront of the eco fashion trend. At the same time, it also supports the production of garments that are affordable, durable, comfortable and aesthetically appealing to the customer.

“Every single brand and retailer that we work with has told us that sustainable manufacturing is an absolute necessity going forward,” says Syed Naved Husain, Group Director and CEO of Beximco. “They’ve made it clear that vendors who cannot supply ethical and sustainable clothing will eventually have a very limited role in this industry.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards sustainable products. A survey conducted by McKinsey in April 2020 showed that some 67% of consumers consider the use of sustainable materials to be an important factor when making purchases.

“We have some really exciting and revolutionary plans that will reduce the time, energy and effort to bring products to market and at the same time ensure the welfare of our communities and value chain partners.”


Integrated Value Chain

Beximco’s achievement in sustainable production is also helping Bangladesh shed its image as a low cost manufacturing hub, and leading the country’s progress to integrate into more important global value chains.

“Beximco recognizes that the traditional approach to textile and garment production is no longer tenable,” says A. S. F. Rahman, Group Chairman of Beximco. “Integrating new technologies, embracing workplace innovations, adopting sustainable efficiencies are but a few of the critical changes that must be made to meet the changing demands of customers and markets.”

Today, the Dhaka-based company is considered one of the most prominent eco-friendly fashion manufacturers in the region. “We are proud to have made significant advances and progress in the area of sustainability,” says Rahman, “We have some really exciting and revolutionary plans that will reduce the time, energy and effort to bring products to market and at the same time ensure the welfare of our communities and value chain partners.”

Recycling With Recover

Recycling waste materials to manufacture high quality yarns is at the core of Beximco’s sustainability initiatives. Beximco has partnered with Recover Textile Systems—a Spanish recycling technology company that specialises in turning textile waste into premium fibers—to become the world’s largest collector and recycler of textile waste and a specialized spinner of high quality recycled yarn.

Recover collects and sorts textile waste from around the world to produce new fibers that contain recycled cotton, blended with other recycled materials such as polyester from plastic water bottles. The high percentage of cotton means that such yarn can be used in the production of high-end textiles.

The results are impressive. Recover’s process score is 1 on the Higg Index—the best possible score on the industry standard for measuring environmental sustainability. In comparison, garments made from conventional cotton have a Higg score of around 70, while organic cotton has a score of around 45.

“All products made out of Recover textiles can be recycled at the end of their lives, returning into the system for a new production loop,” says Husain.

Sustainable Washing

Beximco is also pioneering the use of sustainable washing processes that are not only more friendly to the environment, but able to achieve a look and feel that matches consumers’ preferences, while remaining cost competitive.

The conventional washing process for denim fabrics uses large amounts of fresh water, chemicals and energy, as well as produces waste and downstream effluents. To address these issues, Beximco collaborated with leading sustainability tech players such as Jeanologia and Tonello to modify the washing process.

Beximco adopted Jeanologia’s 5.0 laundry technologies such as ozone to replace bleach, lasers to replace chemicals and smart foam to replace water to produce jeans. As a result, the company’s fresh water usage declined to a mere 1 liter per garment from 70 liters using conventional washing methods. That results to savings of as much as 900 million gallons of water per year.

On Demand Manufacturing

In another effort to eliminate waste, Beximco is working with e-commerce giant Amazon to implement an on demand model of manufacturing that’s more economical and sustainable.

While traditional clothing manufacturing is done months in advance of sales, an on demand product is only made after the sale is booked. The product is then shipped in just a few days. As a result, fashion brands will no longer have costly inventories to dispose of at the end of each season.

“In an on demand model, Beximco’s customers do not need to order thousands of something that they may never sell,” says Husain. “There’s no inventory, no fabric wastage and no warehousing.”

With on demand manufacturing raising the pressure to deliver products under a constrained timeline, Beximco has worked to optimize every process to speed up production without sacrificing quality.

Higher Efficiency Cuts Waste

Other sustainability projects Beximco has undertaken are aimed at increasing the company’s productivity and reducing waste by updating its technology and equipment.

For instance, the company upgraded its effluent treatment plant with new technology from the U.S. That’s necessary to protect the environment as effluent treatment prevents the discharge of hazardous substances that can contaminate ground water and cause illnesses and other issues.

Beximco’s commitment to sustainability is also evident at its headquarters in Beximco Industrial Park—a green campus spread across 400 acres (1,600 square kilometers) in Gazipur, an industrial district north of Dhaka. Local residents call the campus the “Lungs of Gazipur” since it’s home to over 100,000 trees and an organic farm. The entire park has been awarded LEED Green certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The company’s numerous sustainability efforts are one of the key measures of success that are considered by the company. “The role of sustainability is a fundamental KPI we have defined linked to long term success,” says Rahman. “It should not only be measured from an economic dimension but from a social and environmental one in terms of the well-being of people and the health of our planet.”


To find out more

Trusting In Wealth Management

Today’s trust business is booming amid technological innovation and an unprecedented intergenerational transfer of wealth. As part of HSBC Global Private Banking, HSBC Trustee has evolved to support client wealth needs as it marks 75 years of operations in Asia in 2021.

Having seen the passage of wealth across multiple generations, HSBC Trustee is well versed with managing family dynamics and well placed to support clients. Its platform has grown to include services such as family governance, family office advisory and philanthropic advisory.

The traditional role of the trustee is taking the legal ownership of assets held in trust and managing them for the beneficiaries. But as asset classes become more complex and families grow and evolve, modern trustees such as HSBC Trustee find that the settlor—the person who sets up the trust—wants and can often have substantial powers at their discretion.

“I think one of the key aspects of a successful trustee is having some of the ‘softer’ skills,” says Brent York, Global Head of Trust and Fiduciary Services at HSBC Global Private Banking. “It’s about understanding the settlors’ wishes as to their legacy. Who do they want to benefit and when? What are the values they want to pass on?”

For Cynthia Lee, Head of Wealth Planning and Advisory for Asia at HSBC Global Private Banking, being a trustee means being more than a financial adviser. “I see the trustee as a confidant for the family,” she says. “When the patriarch or matriarch of a family is looking to find a trustee, our job is to understand the assets that are held in trust. Very often these are the core, could be the business, could be the core investments, could be everything. Most importantly, we understand the family wealth ambition and needs.”

Intergenerational Transfer

HSBC estimates there will be an intergenerational wealth transfer of US$1.9 trillion in Asia over the next decade. “We’re seeing a lot more first to second generation and second to third generation change happening now,” says York. “And that’s going to continue over the next 10 to 15 years in Asia, whereas in Europe and the U.S., they have experienced more succession through multiple generations.”

Family offices in Asia can be quite different from those in Europe or North America for several reasons. “The rise of the family office is a fairly new concept in Asia,” York adds. “A lot of activity is currently focused on investment diversification. We are also seeing rapid wealth creation from the younger entrepreneurs who are moving into a phase of protecting and growing that wealth.”

Technological, environmental, generational and social changes are defining the future of wealth and legacy planning. Many clients recognise that their wealth is not measured purely by its monetary value today and tomorrow, but by the positive change that it can make in the world.

“The succession of wealth is also about the preservation and transfer of the family values, the heritage, the vision to the next generation and these are the key areas which our clients in Asia are talking about,” says Lee. “Identifying and preparing the next generation, preservation of family harmony, uniting the family, continuing the family dynasty are all common themes with our clients. This is how HSBC sets itself apart—our tools and services are focused on both the financial and non-financial aspects of wealth succession.”

Asia is quite diverse, with Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan considered as established wealth markets. “That’s where we have family offices that have been around for 35 years,” Lee says. “The oldest one, in Hong Kong is celebrating 70 years in 2022.” Then there are emerging wealth markets, which Lee describes as “super exciting.” China is the most obvious example, where technology and the new economy have created new entrepreneurs. Countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines have also been part of the tech revolution.

Brent York, Global Head of Trust and Fiduciary Services, HSBC Global Private Banking

Booming Philippine Market

HSBC’s presence in the Philippines dates back 146 years. In 1875, the bank opened an office in Binondo—Manila’s Chinatown—to offer trade finance services to the community’s exporters and merchants. Today, the Southeast Asian country remains a vibrant market for HSBC, despite its financial ups and downs over the past two decades.

“The Philippines is one of the few countries that came out well from the 1997 Asian financial crisis,” says Lee. “Over the past 10 years, it has been a booming domestic market.” She says HSBC Global Private Banking clients come from all walks of life. “It could be a local food and beverage business, it could be retail industry, a biochemical plant, a hotel chain.”

York points out that families are relatively larger in the Philippines. “Often there’s a lot of concerns around the family business and the succession similar to many other Asian countries,” he says. “There might be multiple parties involved and they are also interested in looking at how we can help them with their access to non-Philippine investments and assets.”

Due to Covid-19, HSBC teams have not been able to visit clients in the Philippines—and many other countries—since 2019. “Through the pandemic, clients have had to adapt,” says York. “They’ve had to change business model or retrench, particularly some of those in hospitality and tourism, while others have seen it as an opportunity to invest.”

HSBC had to adjust as well. “Pre-pandemic, a team would arrive in Manila with a packed agenda over three days,” says Lee. “Now it’s two-hour Zoom calls spread over three half days. On the plus side, the team held a meeting with a Philippine family of almost 30 people, via Zoom, even though they were spread across the globe. Some travel is no longer necessary but some engagement by their nature has to be done face to face.”

Cynthia Lee, Head of Wealth Planning and Advisory, Asia, HSBC Global Private Banking

Managing A Faster Pace

HSBC Trustee often finds that younger family members are less conservative than their elders. “The basics of the trust solution is still valid for them to safeguard their wealth,” York observes. “But being able to give them the powers to manage the assets is important.” The younger generation of business leaders is more agile, he notes. “They want things to happen at a faster pace. And that can be a little bit challenging when we need to give advice.”

The bank has adopted new technology and new ways of communicating. “With some of the more dynamic and younger clients, technology is going to become more important because they don’t use emails,” says York. “They communicate with different social media platforms and we have embraced some of that new technology.”

Additional considerations when making investments such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) and social impact investing are another important trend. “Some families might be more ambitious and more liberal, and decide to deploy a higher percentage of their asset allocation altogether into investments which incorporate ESG and social impact outcomes,” says Lee. “They might entrust the younger members of the family to make some of these decisions.”

HSBC Global Private Banking aims to build a long term and trusted relationship with clients. Its wealth planning, philanthropy and family governance service teams have been highly recognised by the industry with awards from Asian Private Banker and Wealth Briefing Asia in 2020 and 2021.

“While we don’t have a magic wand to fix all family challenges, our job is to ensure that within that established framework agreed between us and the family, we’re able to provide all the options that are on the table,” she says. “We are here to help them to preserve their wealth and leave a legacy for the next generations.”


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 and HSBC Trustee (Hong Kong) Limited.


Thailand: Rising To The Challenge

The pandemic has impacted countries all over the world, and each nation has been faced with its own unique challenges across various sectors. In Thailand, the tourism industry, which usually represents approximately 20% of the country’s GDP, has been hit particularly hard.

Goods and services exports, another of the Thai economy’s cornerstones at about 60% of GDP in 2019, was also significantly affected initially. However, the sector has since recovered, spurred by the weakest baht level in three years, to achieve 43.8% year-on-year growth in 2021—the largest increase in 11 years, according to the Kasikorn Bank Research Center.

In terms of direct foreign investment, supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic have encouraged foreign investors to move from China-centric to more regionalized production, and Kasikorn expects inflows to Thailand to increase by 0.7% to 0.8% from 2021 to 2022.

Moreover, in July, the Asian Development Bank estimated that Thailand’s GDP will grow by 3% in 2021 and 4.5% in 2022, so the outlook is improving as the world begins to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

Despite the headwinds of the past two years, some sectors and companies have continued to fulfil their growth ambitions, as this special supplement highlights.

The German digital security company cyan recently chose Thailand as their first step in entering the Asian market, forming a partnership with Thailand’s leading mobile network operator to provide cybersecurity for mobile users.

Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical, meanwhile, has pressed forward with its global expansion, acquiring Germany’s Allnex Holding in a landmark €4 billion (US$4.75 billion) deal that significantly expands the state-owned company’s international reach, as well as its production and product development capabilities.

After a period of global gloom, it seems that a new, and hopefully improved, normal is emerging. Mass vaccination is key to winning the battle against Covid-19, and Thailand is striving to achieve this despite some initial difficulties. As of late August, medical authorities in Thailand had administered more than 28 million doses of the vaccine, and as the supply increases dramatically in the last four months of 2021, the country should be able to reach its goal of vaccinating more than half of its population by the end of the year.

In fact, Thailand’s well developed sense of community served the country well in minimizing the impact of Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic, bringing the infection rate down to less than 10 per day for more than three months in 2020. Despite the recent uptick in third wave infections, Thailand is ready and able to rise to the challenge, and to step forward confidently into post pandemic prosperity.

Petronas: Onwards To A Sustainable Future

As a global energy and solutions partner, sustainability has always been at the forefront of PETRONAS’ agenda. It deeply understands the need to spearhead efforts towards a sustainable future.

PETRONAS’ sustainability journey began more than two decades ago with the integration of environmental, social and governance practices into its business and decision-making.

Driven by a clear agenda, PETRONAS strives to explore new opportunities and drive growth for the business, guided by the four sustainability lenses (see box). PETRONAS declared its aspiration to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in November 2020.

Cleaner, Renewable and New Energy

PETRONAS’ sustainability journey sees more solutions being introduced as part of the strategies including its foray into the cleaner, renewable and new energy sector. In 2016, PETRONAS introduced its first Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (PFLNG SATU), a game changer which can process gas from offshore fields with depths of up to 200 meters. Their second PFLNG (PFLNG DUA), is the world’s first deep-water floating LNG which is currently operating at water depths up to 1,500 meters. The PFLNG can transport offshore LNG without the need for pipelines, making this a more sustainable way of extracting and processing gas.

Amplus solar farm in Karnataka, India.

The journey continues through the acquisition of Amplus Energy Solutions in 2019, which has now successfully grown its total solar capacity in India and Malaysia to almost 1GW under operation and development.

While in the cleaner energy space, PETRONAS has recently set its focus on producing hydrogen fuel—an efficient energy output that is sustainable, leveraging on technology for the production and transportation of hydrogen.

Behind The Scenes

PETRONAS’ sustainable efforts are also aimed at protecting the environment. For example, it sponsors the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area in Sabah, which advocates research, reforestation, public education and the training of future stewards. Its gravity-based water systems—dubbed “Water for Life”— in Malaysia, Iraq and the Republic of South Sudan supply clean water to over 100,000 residents since 2013.

In the area of education for local communities, more than 31,000 students have benefited from various academic programs and training courses offered by Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Institut Teknologi Petroleum PETRONAS, and Akedemi Laut Malaysia.

PFLNG SATU processing gas from the Kebabangan Cluster field in Sabah, Malaysia.

End Goal

PETRONAS recognizes that the key to its sustainability agenda is to continue looking for new ways to strengthen regional cooperation and create the right ecosystem to promote a broader usage of energy from clean and sustainable sources. This is also why PETRONAS joined over 200 forward thinking companies as the newest member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in 2020.

As PETRONAS moves towards a sustainable future, it will continue to align its business strategies toward global sustainable energy trends. This will enable PETRONAS to meet the demands of the energy trilemma—defined as security, sustainability and affordability—in ways that will create positive social impact while safeguarding the environment.


Singapore Is Key To HSBC’s Asia Wealth Ambition

As HSBC moves confidently towards its ambition of becoming Asia’s leading wealth manager, the bank is leveraging on Singapore as an international wealth hub to unlock new growth opportunities for its clients in the region.

HSBC’s history in Singapore dates back to 1877, when it opened its first branch on the island. As one of the earliest banks to establish presence in Singapore, HSBC has been able to tap on its long and storied heritage to build a legacy of trust with clients in the city-state.

“HSBC has always been focused on helping our clients in Singapore capture opportunities—from supporting the country’s rubber exports in the 1880s, to its post-war rebuild, through to the 1970’s technology push,” Wong Kee Joo, CEO of HSBC Singapore, says.

As Singapore enters a brave new world—moulded by digital and ESG adaption, shifting trade and supply chains, and rising wealth—we will continue to help our clients turn these transitions into opportunities.

A Distinctive “One Bank” Approach

Widely recognised as a centre of excellence in trading and finance, Singapore is ideal for businesses and investors in the region to both grow and preserve wealth.

Philip Kunz, Head of Global Private Banking, South Asia HSBC Private Banking

“We are seeing greater interest from Asian clients who are setting up and expanding family offices. They adopt institutional approaches to build continuity, diversification and resilience in their investment portfolios.” 

– Philip Kunz, Head of Global Private Banking, South Asia HSBC Private Banking

“Singapore is at the heart of HSBC’s expansion,” says Philip Kunz, HSBC’s Head of Global Private Banking for South Asia. “The city’s wealthy population continues to rise, as it establishes itself as one of the leading private banking and wealth management centres globally.”

Driving HSBC’s comprehensive wealth capabilities is the bank’s universal banking platform, underpinned by its extensive global footprint and strong balance sheet. HSBC stands apart by bringing the full breadth of the group’s capabilities across transactional, corporate and investment banking to clients with this “one bank” approach.

In particular, HSBC’s strong presence in the world’s top eight wealth hubs, including Singapore, enables the bank to deliver transactional banking and wealth management services in the most relevant markets to affluent customers looking for international opportunities.

Family Office Specialists

As wealth accumulates rapidly in Asia, more private banking clients are choosing to set up specialised family offices in Singapore to manage their financial affairs. These organisations offer clients dedicated and tailored services in a variety of areas; from trust and estate planning to investment management and governance.

The city-state ticks the right boxes in terms of what wealthy families should consider when deciding where to establish their family offices, says Kunz.

“The choice of where to set up a family office can have significant consequences,” says Kunz. “It’s not simply choosing a location for wealth management, but also a place where the interests of the family can be best served and safeguarded.”

To better serve its clients, HSBC Private Banking in Singapore established a Family Office Advisory team to provide structuring and inter-generational wealth planning services. It also recently launched a dedicated Independent Asset Managers (IAM) desk to meet the needs of family offices and independent advisors managing wealth on behalf of their clients.

Increasingly, UHNW clients appoint IAMs to oversee their wealth assets and in turn partner with private banks to deliver wealth management advisory and execution. Unsurprisingly, the bank has seen strong uptake in the service since its launch in Singapore late last year.

“We are seeing greater interest from Asian clients who are setting up and expanding family offices. They adopt institutional approaches to build continuity, diversification and resilience in their investment portfolios.”

HSBC is also evolving to better serve clients’ needs. “As wealthy individuals and businesses professionalise the management of their family wealth, this new model combines the full strength of advisory and structuring capabilities in our private banking and investment banking teams to meet our clients’ increasingly sophisticated investment and family needs,” adds Kunz.

A Sustainable Finance Leader

HSBC is helping clients from across the wealth continuum to not only build sustainable wealth, but also understand the impact of environment, social and governance (ESG) issues in their investment decisions.

First office, HSBC built its first Singapore premises at Collyer Quay in 1892. The site had been the location of HSBC’s Singapore headquarters ever since, before moving officially to its current location at Marina Bay Financial Centre in April 2020.

With HSBC’s “one bank” approach, clients can explore innovative ways to invest sustainably in partnership with HSBC’s investment bank, a leading force in sustainable finance and ESG investing. The bank has delivered a range of landmark sustainability solutions for its clients.

“We have executed market-leading transactions and launched innovative sustainable finance solutions,” says Wong. “We are also driving industry groups to embed sustainability into banking practices within Singapore. We are committed to become a Net Zero bank, by reducing our carbon footprint in our operations, supply chain and financing portfolio.”

Reflecting its success in this area, HSBC was named Best Bank for Sustainable Finance Asia 2020 at the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2020 and Investment Bank of the Year for Sustainability 2020 by The Banker.

“At the end of the day, the goal of our climate ambition is to support our clients and the communities in which we operate into thrive in the low carbon transition and build a more sustainable future,” Wong adds.

Wong Kee Joo, newly appointed CEO for HSBC Singapore, has more than 26 years of banking experience across different markets including the U.K., Thailand, Hong Kong and China. Previously, he was the Asia Pacific head for Global Liquidity and Cash Management at HSBC, developing digital solutions for wholesale clients and supporting the trade and investment flows between China and ASEAN, which has become the world’s most important commercial corridor.

“Our over 140-year history in Singapore gives us an advantageous position. Given our commercial heritage, on-the-ground expertise, digital capabilities and international connectivity, we are uniquely placed to open up a world of opportunity for our clients.” 

 – Wong Kee Joo, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Singapore

Investing For Growth

HSBC will continue to invest in building its wealth capabilities in Singapore and the rest of Asia as it progresses towards its goal of becoming the leading wealth bank in the region. The bank has committed to invest over US$3.5 billion in the next five years to accelerate the growth of its Wealth and Personal Banking business in Asia.

These investments will focus on expanding distribution capabilities in Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. It will also enhance the bank’s digital wealth capabilities and develop new products that will deliver a distinctive customer experience.

“Singapore plays an integral role in our Asian wealth growth strategy,” says Wong. “Our over 140-year history in Singapore gives us an advantageous position. Given our commercial heritage, on-the-ground expertise, digital capabilities and international connectivity, we are uniquely placed to open up a world of opportunity for our clients.”

French High Perfumery At Its Finest

Henry Jacques Laboratory

For almost half a century, famed French high perfumery Henry Jacques has been creating bespoke fragrances for connoisseurs of premium scents globally. Founded by Henry Jacques Cremona in 1975, the brand prides itself on using pure natural essences sourced from around the world.

Over the decades, the brand’s custom-made fragrances have come to represent the pinnacle of French high perfumery. Equally important are the exquisite, hand-crafted crystal bottles that contain Henry Jacques’ creations. Each flacon is conceived, designed, and crafted individually, in perfect unison with the perfume it holds. Indeed, the complex artistry of matching the fragrance to its crystal flacon has become intrinsic to Henry Jacques’ work, adding another dimension to enjoying perfume and experiencing the true art of living.

Under the leadership of Cremona’s daughter, Anne-Lise, the brand opened its offerings to a wider audience by starting a commercial line in 2015. Two years later, Henry Jacques unveiled its first standalone boutique at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

Henry Jacques Atelier

The Magic of Spinning Tops

The latest series in Henry Jacques’ Masterpieces collection is the Les Toupies, French for spinning tops. The series comprises three pairs of exquisite creations for couples, each weaving a distinct tale as part of an overarching story. The main characters in this elegant series are Mr. H and Mrs. Y in Les Toupies I, No. 16 and No. 81 in Les Toupies II, and Fanfan and Galileo in Les Toupies III.

Each Toupie contains its own distinct fragrance and the pairs are housed in hand-crafted crystal flacons reminiscent of spinning tops. Each flacon is designed to express the unique character of the perfume within. The exquisite bottles were developed over three years under the meticulous guidance of Henry Jacques’ Creative Director, Christophe Tollemer.

Les Toupies I: Mr. H and Mrs. Y

Les Toupies I: Mr. H and Mrs. Y

The first pair in the series features two signature perfumes: Mr. H and Mrs. Y. The pair represent a love story between a man and a woman, and while the bottles are almost identical, the male flacon is slightly larger. No matter how they are placed, the curves of each flacon seem to respond to the other seamlessly, reflecting their synergy.

Mr. H carries hints of cedar leaf, geranium, sandalwood, tobacco, amber and patchouli. Mrs. Y on the other hand plays on ylang ylang, rose damascena, jasmine, iris, wild lily of the valley and tonka bean.  

Les Toupies II: No. 16 and No. 81

Les Toupies II: No. 16 and No. 81

The second pair in the series comprises No. 16 and No. 81, two truly modern perfumes that have been elevated by the inclusion of lesser known ingredients. While No. 16 has hints of gardenia, ylang ylang and rose de mai, No. 81 features bergamot and citrusy grapefruit. Their flacons are confident, energetic and boldly architectural, boasting strong angles and clean lines that contrast with each other in perfect symmetry. 

Les Toupies III: Fanfan and Galileo

Les Toupies III: Fanfan and Galileo

Fanfan and Galileo are the third and final pair in the Les Toupies series. Described as a manly yet tender perfume, Galileo has notes of lavender, Italian mandarin, tobacco, myrrh and amber. Fanfan, meanwhile, is a softer fragrance for women, with hints of lavender, saffron and rose damascena. Their flacons are the most curved and rounded of all the Toupies, reflecting a certain swing and exuberance in their personalities.

Establishing a Legacy

In 1975, Henry Jacques Cremona founded a French luxury perfumery after finding inspiration during his travels. His brand, Henry Jacques, has since charted its own groundbreaking path. On this epic journey, it has emerged as a master craftsman of bespoke fragrances, while also establishing a family legacy.

For the longest time, Cremona’s Atelier was exclusively dedicated to creation, with his team working discreetly to satisfy the olfactory desires of his elite clientele. After decades of preparation, Henry Jacques opened to the public in recent years through a handful of exclusive boutiques designed to showcase the brand’s singular collections.

The genesis of Parfums Henry Jacques started with Cremona’s encounter with one of the last great noses of old French perfume tradition. From that fortuitous encounter was born a perfume house that is steeped in his family’s culture, a taste for absolute refinement and an obsession with rarity and perfection. Through the creation of these precious perfumes, Henry Jacques hopes to awaken a lost emotion and create new beautiful memories for discerning clients.

Redefining Logistics: How FedEx Navigated The Pandemic Challenge

Kawal Preet, president of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region at FedEx Express

For global logistics leader FedEx, the pandemic created a key challenge: How to build a future-proof supply chain network. While Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the global economy and disrupted transportation networks around the world, FedEx moved swiftly to ensure shipments continued to flow around the world.

“Thanks to our network and capabilities, FedEx never stopped and kept critical shipments moving,” says Kawal Preet, president of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region at FedEx Express. “As demand surged with the severe shortage of air cargo capacity stemming from the grounding of passenger flights, we’ve flexed our network and increased our flights. That helped keep packages and relief supplies moving.”

As the pandemic upended industries, companies had to make their businesses more agile and resilient to deliver value to customers and shareholders at the same time. To do this, businesses are building decentralized supply chains to move away from reliance on a single production location which can shut down overnight in times of crisis, Preet says.

A strategic shift in supply chain management mindset from “just in time” deliveries to “just in case” inventories is necessary, says Preet. “This model favors the increased use of multi-modal and more economical delivery solutions.”

E-Commerce Pivot

Aside from reinventing the supply chain, businesses will also have to increasingly embrace the digital economy. While e-commerce was already booming before the pandemic, the crisis accelerated its growth momentum.

To tap into the digital economy’s rapid growth, companies—especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups—are stepping up their digitalization, allowing businesses to expand into new markets.

Transitioning these traditional businesses to online platforms can be simplified by partnering with the right logistics providers. FedEx, for example, offers solutions that help integrate logistics services into e-tailers’ web platforms in addition to day-definite business-to-consumer solutions.

Supporting SMEs

SMEs—the hardest hit by the pandemic—are looking for support to return to profitability. “Nurturing SMEs and entrepreneurs remains a top priority at FedEx,” says Preet.

SMEs can capture global opportunities by leaning on logistics providers that provide convenience and cost savings while expanding their reach. Digital tools such as Electronic Trade Documents for faster customs clearance, and FedEx Delivery Manager which enables customized delivery services at no extra cost help customers achieve those savings.

Apart from providing small businesses efficient logistics services, FedEx recognizes that entrepreneurs often require financial support to fast track their growth. This is the aim of the company’s annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest (SBGC). First launched in the U.S. in 2012, the programme expanded to other international markets, including AMEA, in 2016. To date, SBGC has awarded over 200 businesses with grants and prizes totaling more than US$2 million.

Small But Significant

Supporting SMEs is vital for the recovery of the global economy as these businesses comprise close to 90% of enterprises and employ more than half the world’s workers, according to the World Bank.

To help drive the recovery, FedEx is committed to providing SMEs with the services and support to take advantage of e-commerce opportunities and expand their businesses globally. To cater to the rising exports from the Asia Pacific region, FedEx had in June added new flights, particularly on the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe routes.

“This is just the beginning,” says Preet. “We have ambitious goals ahead to continue playing a critical part on the path to recovery.”

Beximco Pharmaceuticals: Setting The Bar High For Generic Medicines

As the pandemic upended the healthcare supply chain over the past year, one company in Bangladesh did not only strive to ensure the continued distribution of medicines across the country, but also introduced its own antidote against Covid-19.

In the midst of the unprecedented health crisis, Dhaka, Bangladesh-based Beximco Pharmaceuticals introduced remdesivir, the world’s first antiviral drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat those infected by the Covid-19 virus. Originally developed by U.S.-based Gilead Sciences, Beximco sells the generic drug under the brand name Bemsivir.

The company, which is a leading manufacturer and exporter of generic drugs, provided Bemsivir shots free to all government-designated Covid-19 hospitals in Bangladesh and donated large quantities of the medicine to several countries, including India, on humanitarian grounds.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, Beximco Pharma has made an all-out effort to improve access to all repurposed drugs by ramping up their production in the quickest possible time,” says Nazmul Has-san MP, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Beximco Pharma. “Despite tremendous challenges, Beximco has worked to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines throughout Bangladesh.”

The company is also playing a vital role in supplying vaccines to Bangladeshis, having secured 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.

The drug maker is now lending its expertise to a global initiative to ensure sufficient supply of drugs to fight the virus. In November 2020, it joined Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed public healthcare organization working to ensure the availability of life-saving medicines to low- and middle-income countries.

“As we grow, we continually strive to meet the needs and expectations of our stakeholders and society as a whole.”


A Leading Healthcare Player

Beximco Pharma’s proactive and humanitarian approach to combating the Covid-19 pandemic is part of its larger commitment to putting corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the core of its values.

“As a socially responsible corporation, Beximco Group constantly strives to make a positive impact in the communities we operate in,” says Shayan F. Rahman, Principal and Advisor to the Board of Beximco Group. “To this end, we have in place numerous programmes that make a truly unique contribution to development in Bangladesh. At Beximco, we believe we have a central role to play in creating positive social change.”

Beximco Pharma started operations in 1976 by importing products from leading drug makers Bayer from Germany and Upjohn from the U.S., before acquiring the license to manufacture these products domestically.

The firm has grown by leaps and bounds since then and has played a key role in the transformation of Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry from an import-dependent nation to an exporter. With a 4,500-strong workforce and a diverse portfolio of 500 products, the company is also emerging as a major global generic drug producer.

Beximco Pharma’s manufacturing facilities are accredited by leading regulatory authorities worldwide, and its products are now being exported to more than 50 countries, including the highly regulated markets of the U.S., Europe and Australia.

The company has also differentiated itself with its capabilities in hi-tech dosage delivery systems, such as metered dose inhalers. Today, the firm is the largest producer and exporter of inhalers in Bangladesh.

Enhancing Health and Well-Being

Beximco Pharma’s vision is to enhance human health and well-being by providing effective medicines at affordable prices and manufactured in full compliance with world-class quality standards. It also aims to be one of the most trusted, admired and successful pharmaceutical companies in the region, with a focus on strengthening research and development capabilities as well as creating partnerships and building presence across the globe.

“Beximco Pharma strives to provide access to life-saving therapies and make them affordable—at a fraction of the cost when compared to other developed and developing countries,” says Hassan. “The price of medicine in Bangladesh is probably the lowest in the world. Being a leading manufacturer, we have played an important role in introducing generic versions of many breakthroughs drugs and making them affordable to the patients.”

To realize these ambitions, the company has adopted a set of core values that encompass a commitment to quality by leveraging best industry practices. It also prioritizes talent development and strictly adheres to the highest ethical standards. At the same time, Beximco Pharma actively takes part in initiatives that benefits society and contributes to the welfare of its people.

Breaking New Ground

Beximco Pharma has been a trailblazer in the industry over the past four decades. It was the first Bangladeshi company approved by the USFDA and first to export medicines to the U.S. The firm also has the highest number of global accreditations in the industry among all local manufacturers and is the only Bangladeshi firm listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.

Despite its achievements, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It continues to make significant investments in R&D—equivalent to 1.5% of its annual revenues—particularly in areas such as biosimilars and vaccines, as it seeks to become a key player in the global market.

“We are the only Bangladeshi company to export medicine to the U.S. and within a short span of time the U.S. has become the largest export market for us,” says Hassan. “This was possible largely due to our stringent quality standards and commitment to excellence.”

Unsurprisingly, the company has won numerous accolades for its achievements. It is a five-time winner of the National Export (Gold) trophy, and remains the only company in Bangladesh to win highly prestigious global awards, including the SCRIP Awards, and the Global Generics and Biosimilars Awards, among others.

Looking a head, Beximco Pharma aims to ramp up contributions from its export business, expand its presence in regulated global markets and increase its focus on vaccines, biosimilars and oncology drugs. It also aims to foster more international collaborations and partnerships, and is also looking to make strategic acquisitions.

Giving Back to Society

As a responsible corporate citizen, Beximco Pharma focuses its CSR activities on healthcare, education for the underprivileged, and research in the areas of medical devices.

The company helped to fund biomedical research in developing a number of low-cost medical devices, including the country’s first negative pressure isolation canopy to protect doctors working in Covid-19 hospitals. It also fully sponsored the country’s lone clinical trial on a potential Covid-19 treatment.

Furthermore, the company collaborates with non-profit organizations that work to improve people’s lives through research, information and advocacy. For instance, it supports the JAAGO Foundation, the country’s largest youth-based volunteer organization. In a separate initiative, the company has sponsored several computer learning schools in remote districts across Bangladesh in partnership with U.S.-based Computer Literacy Program.

“As we grow, we continually strive to meet the needs and expectations of our stakeholders and society as a whole,” says Rahman. “We strongly believe we can only be successful if we create value not just for the company but also for the society, we live in.”

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Petronas: Gearing Up For The Future With Cleaner And Renewable Energy

Adnan Zainal Abidin, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of PETRONAS G+NE

PETRONAS shares this vision for a greener future, guided by its Net Zero Carbon Emission 2050 goals. To drive this vision, PETRONAS established the Gas + New Energy (G+NE) business division, a one-stop center for cleaner energy solutions. G+NE will chart the course to ensure that PETRONAS continues to evolve as a cleaner and renewable energy provider, while supporting the energy transition.

“With PETRONAS’ diversified energy portfolio under G+NE, we have introduced forward thinking technologies and have tailor made our solutions to ensure our customers benefit from cleaner and sustainable energy covering natural gas, renewables and hydrogen,” says Adnan Zainal Abidin, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of G+NE.

Integrated Value Chain

Over the years, PETRONAS has developed its capabilities and an integrated value chain to provide reliable and accessible cleaner energy in order to meet the growing global energy demand.

As a leading Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supplier, PETRONAS operates one of the world’s largest LNG facilities in a single location in Bintulu, Sarawak. It also has presence across Egypt, Australia, and soon Canada, enabling the company to deliver LNG to more than 25 countries worldwide.

PETRONAS is also the world’s first owner and operator of two floating LNG (FLNG) facilities, which can produce almost three million tons of LNG per annum for its customers. PETRONAS’ leadership in FLNG technologies has redefined the LNG industry, allowing energy companies to monetize and unlock previously uneconomical and stranded gas fields, while safeguarding the environment.

The company’s public listed subsidiary, PETRONAS Gas Berhad, has been the backbone of Malaysia’s gas market, supplying customers with solutions that include gas processing, gas transportation, LNG regasification and utilities, as well as the provision of cross border pipelines.

PETRONAS also provides its customers innovative solutions such as LNG Bunkering to promote the use of cleaner fuel in the marine industry. To reach remote industries with no access to direct LNG infrastructure, PETRONAS offers solutions such as virtual pipeline systems that deliver LNG in ISO tanks onboard trucks.

In pursuit of renewable energy sources, PETRONAS continues to build its presence and capacity as a world-class solar energy provider with its fully-owned subsidiary, Amplus Energy Solutions based in India. Today, PETRONAS has over 1GW of solar capacity in operation and under development in India and Malaysia.

As for hydrogen-based solutions, PETRONAS has through the years been producing blue hydrogen—a byproduct of its LNG production process—and is now exploring the commercial production of green hydrogen. These solutions assure customers that PETRONAS is able to produce efficient clean energy output that’s reliable and sustainable.

PETRONAS’ floating LNG facility and solar farms reflect the firm’s commitment to cleaner energy.

Sustainable Business

In addition to providing cleaner and renewable energy solutions, PETRONAS is also embedding sustainability into its businesses by growing the use of solar energy to power its operations and production.

Along with this is PETRONAS’ commitment to Malaysia’s own Green House Gas emission reduction agenda and the nation’s aspirations to increase renewable energy mix by advocating greater usage of solar and hydrogen as a clean energy carrier.

“Behind our shared purpose is our incredible employees, customers and stakeholders who will continue to heed the call and work towards building a greener and sustainable future,” says Adnan.