Delivering The Future

Kawal Preet, AMEA President, FedEx Express

Supply chain disruption continues to be a pain point for businesses around Asia and the world. Many industry sectors continue to experience supply chain bottlenecks, raw material and component shortages, infrastructure issues, and continued rotating lockdowns in countries still managing the pandemic.

Within this issue, however, lies an opportunity. By collecting and using data that is continuously generated within and around the supply chains, they can be made smarter, more predictable, and controllable. This benefits FedEx, as well as its customers.

“Data and technology hold the key to unlocking and building better insights, increasing visibility and improving customer experience,” says Kawal Preet, President of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region at FedEx Express. “It’s no longer just information about the package, but also the environment in which the package is traveling that we’re collecting to generate those insights, and ultimately giving more control to our customers.”

Connecting Physical and Digital Networks

Every day, more than 20 million packages move through the FedEx network. Each one of them is scanned around 20 times before reaching its destination, moving in a combination of aircraft and delivery vehicles. FedEx teams around the globe need to be able to act quickly and decisively to ensure packages are delivered at the right time, and to the right place.

FedEx recognized early on how data drives innovation. Today, the analytics center in Singapore works closely with FedEx Dataworks, which is steering the company’s digital transformation using data to help optimize internal operations. The teams use machine learning, artificial intelligence and other advanced analytical methods to improve complex processes, prevent problems or make decision recommendations in real time.

“We are transforming our business to operate at the intersection of physical and digital networks, and to create even more value for our customers,” says Preet.

Big Data Powering Smart Logistics

Among the solutions recently developed is a near real-time package monitoring system that enables customer service and operations teams to anticipate issues, and take action to prevent shipments from being delayed. Predictive algorithms are used to prepare customs clearance information, ensuring that shipments can be delivered as soon as they arrive in their destination country.

In addition to parcel scanning, a sensor device can be placed inside a package or a container to transmit location, temperature and other data related to the status of the package to various types of access points throughout the FedEx network. This enhanced real-time visibility helps FedEx and its customers plan the next steps in their supply chain—for example, making sure that engineers are on site at the right time, ready to receive and install a critical spare part.

As supply chain disruptions look set to continue for the foreseeable future, logistics teams need to be able to think and act with agility. Real-time visibility into the progress of shipments in transit helps to ease some of the stresses of keeping a business on track.

“Using technology and ever greater amounts of connected, continuous and contextual data, we are transforming the way we operate,” says Preet. “Tapping into the full potential of data analytics can help us improve efficiency, reduce errors, avoid problems and increase transparency. And most importantly, deliver more intelligent supply chains for our customers.”

Leading The Franchising Boom In Asian Hospitality

Joon Aun Ooi, President, Asia Pacific, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

As the recovery in global travel starts to gain traction, more hotel owners are looking to scale their operations by partnering with industry-leading brands through franchise agreements. Indeed, the pandemic has accelerated a trend towards franchising in the hospitality sector that started more than a decade ago.

Led by global hospitality leaders such as Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the proportion of branded hotels globally that were franchised operations rose from 70% in 2010 to around 80% in 2019, according to STR and JLL Research. In Wyndham’s case, the formula for success can be attributed to three factors.

Firstly, Wyndham adopts an “OwnerFirst” mindset where the company constantly collaborates with owners to achieve a win-win outcome. Secondly, Wyndham prides itself on having a brand for every occasion. This enables existing and potential business partners to identify a brand suitable for their market and target guest profile. Lastly, they have robust on-ground presence in Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney, Shanghai, Beijing and seven other cities across China to help address owners’ queries and provide support. These three key factors provide existing and potential owners with a high level of confidence when they partner with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

Amid challenging economic conditions, the numerous benefits of the franchising model have become increasingly attractive. Franchisees are not only able to associate their hotel with a popular brand, but also take advantage of a franchisor’s global network and expertise, training programs, round-the-clock advisory and support services, as well as access to loyalty and marketing programs.

Meanwhile, as the world’s leading hotel franchisor, Wyndham offers strong opportunities for existing and potential hotel owners to tap into an enterprise system driven by a robust portfolio of iconic brands with strong value proposition.

“We know what it takes to run a successful and collaborative franchise business model with owners.”

While management agreements remain the dominant model in Asia Pacific, the appetite for franchising has been on a good trajectory in 2022, reveals Joon Aun Ooi, President, Asia Pacific, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

“Asian owners are more aware of the benefits of franchising today. It gives them branding, distribution and tools to help them reduce operating costs, and the flexibility to run their hotels as they see fit while conforming to franchise standards,” he says.

Ramada by Wyndham Guilin Yangshuo Resort

Owners in the region have become more comfortable with franchising as the talent pool to support this model expands. Asia’s hotel development boom in recent years has swelled the ranks of qualified general managers (GM) and other hotel professionals in the region.

“Asia has a lot of hospitality talent available now. This enables owners to hire their own GMs and other key team players to run the hotel themselves. Due to this factor, I am more enthusiastic about franchising today compared to five years ago,” explains Ooi.

Leading the Pack

Wyndham is widely recognized as one of the leaders of the franchising model in Asia Pacific. The group aims to grow its portfolio to 2,000 hotels in the region by 2025, from around 1,600 currently. Wyndham sees strong demand coming from Greater China, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Wyndham Garden Bangkok Sukhumvit 42 Rooftop Pool

Globally, Wyndham is the world’s largest hotel franchising company, with approximately 9,000 hotels in 95 countries across six continents. “We’ve been franchising for decades,” says Ooi. “While other chains are franchising too, we have been very active in Asia Pacific. We know what it takes to run a successful and collaborative franchise business model with owners.” Reflecting the strength of Wyndham’s franchise and owner-first strategies, existing owners made up more than 20% of its signings in 2021, with one owner in Thailand opening four new hotels under the Wyndham portfolio of brands this year alone.

Leveraging a Global Footprint

The key advantage that Wyndham offers owners is its size and global footprint, including a diverse portfolio of 22 brands. The group has deployed 15 of these brands in Asia Pacific: Wyndham Grand, Wyndham, Wyndham Garden, Dolce Hotels and Resorts by Wyndham, Ramada by Wyndham, Ramada Encore by Wyndham, Microtel by Wyndham, La Quinta by Wyndham, Days Hotel by Wyndham, Howard Johnson by Wyndham, Trademark Collection by Wyndham, TRYP by Wyndham, Hawthorn by Wyndham, Super8 by Wyndham and Wingate by Wyndham. The group plans to introduce Wyndham Alltra, an all-inclusive resort brand, in Asia Pacific by 2023. 

Hotel Sol Halong Bay Trademark Collection by Wyndham

The versatility and diversity of the brand portfolio provide franchisees with a wide range of options to meet their unique needs and help them to capture profitable opportunities.

Wyndham partners also benefit from the group’s expansive network of relationships with major online travel agents (OTAs) and distribution partners. Due to Wyndham’s global reach and pool of more than 95 million Wyndham Rewards members, the group can negotiate favorable rates on their franchisees’ behalf. Owners can save on the costs of OTA bookings by taking advantage of these competitive rates, as well as brand marketing efforts that drive guests to direct channels. 

Microtel by Wyndham Sanya Dadonghai

Owners also enjoy the full backing of Wyndham’s highly experienced support team to assist them in their day-to-day operations. Franchisees have round-the-clock access to an online portal, including comprehensive best practices tools in operations and marketing, as well as a direct line to Wyndham support experts. 

Meanwhile, Wyndham’s team of revenue management experts works to optimize property rates and inventory availability for franchisees with the goal of increasing property revenue and market share. Owners can also leverage Wyndham’s Architecture, Design and Construction team to guide them through each step of a new build or conversion process for projects of all sizes.

Winning with Wyndham Rewards

On the marketing front, owners can tap into the award-winning Wyndham Rewards platform. The program, along with Wyndham’s comprehensive and targeted cross-selling efforts, helps connect a franchised hotel with over 95 million loyalty members. Wyndham Rewards offers guests more than 50,000 redemption options around the world, helping ensure repeat business for franchisees. Most recently, Wyndham Rewards clinched Gold at the 2022 Loyalty & Engagement Awards organized by Marketing Interactive. This win is highly significant as it reflects the high level of acceptance and trust the program has among hotel guests and partners in Asia Pacific.

Looking ahead, Ooi says that he believes the recovery in Asia Pacific’s hospitality sector can only bode well for Wyndham’s franchise strategy in the coming years. “More than ever, the challenges of the pandemic have underscored the importance of hotels being affiliated with established, globally known brands. We know what it takes to run a successful and collaborative franchise model, and that’s driving increased interest in our offerings, a trend we expect to continue throughout 2022 as hotels look to further their recovery.”


www.wyndhamhotels.com

Heat Is On For Companies To Strengthen ESG Practices

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, once considered a trend for millennials and younger investors, is fast gaining traction as a mainstream requirement for global corporations as the climate crisis intensifies. 

The historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change saw 195 countries and the European Union signing up to a common goal of keeping global temperatures from increasing more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, thereby ensuring that carbon emissions and removals offset each other.

The World Meteorological Organization, the foremost authority on global climate, says in its latest report that the odds for the world hitting the target of a yearly average of 1.5 degrees Celsius are 50-50. There is also the likelihood that the five years from 2022 to 2026 will be the hottest on record.

The good news is that an increasing number of organizations, from financial institutions and energy companies to real estate developers and leading manufacturers, are rallying behind governments to reduce carbon footprints and strengthen ESG efforts to achieve net zero targets.

Investors, both retail and institutional, are also aligning their portfolios to ensure that their money goes to responsible companies with clear ESG metrics—ranging from carbon footprint reduction, energy efficiency improvements, employee health and safety to product sustainability, the integrity of the company’s board of directors, and diversity and inclusion efforts across the organization.

One of the financial institutions guiding clients toward ESG investing is LGT Group, the world’s largest family-owned private banking and asset management group based in the microstate of Liechtenstein, a well-known economic powerhouse in Europe. The bank—owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, who, as an entrepreneurial family, has transferred wealth across 26 generations for almost 900 years—provides wealth management services to private banking clients with sustainability as a core focus.

Another banking group, HSBC Global Private Banking, has research figures that indicate more than 82% of investors in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Kingdom rate sustainable, environmental and ethical issues as “quite” or “very important” to their investments. The bank is helping investors to future-proof their investment portfolios by choosing companies that are ESG-focused as they tend to deliver stronger earnings. With HSBC’s guidance, investors will also be able to invest while supporting the global movement towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

Product manufacturers, on the other hand, face different challenges as they need to utilize finite raw materials for production. But that is not stopping forward-thinking manufacturers from doing their bit to mitigate global warming.

Indonesia-based Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL Group), one of the largest pulp and paper producers in the world, has in place a one-for-one sustainability goal whereby every hectare of land used for commercial plantation is matched with an equal size of land set aside for conservation. At the company’s mills, 90% of the energy requirements come from renewable sources. APRIL Group also invests a dollar for every ton of fiber that is delivered to the mill, ensuring about US$100 million for conservation and restoration over the next 10 years. The company is leading by example to demonstrate that sustainability is not a zero-sum game and the pursuit of ESG goals need not be at the expense of profitability.

State-owned oil and gas companies are also rebranding themselves as “energy” companies as they transition towards carbon neutrality. One such company is Pertamina, Indonesia’s largest integrated energy company, whose biggest challenge today is energy security—or ensuring the uninterrupted supply of energy at an affordable price across an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands with a population of over 270 million. The company has rolled out several ESG programs and initiatives, such as developing an ecosystem that supports electric vehicles; introducing the use of biogas and waste materials in rural areas; recycling cooking oil; and promoting the conservation and restoration of the coastal and marine ecosystems. Pertamina is also building more solar power plants and harnessing renewable energy from hydro, geothermal and hydrogen as it journeys toward achieving net zero targets in line with the national agenda.

Meanwhile, in the real estate industry, Hong Kong-based Sino Group has signed on to support the United Nations Global Compact in 2020, as well as Business Ambition for 1.5°C and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures in 2021, becoming one of the first real estate developers in Asia to commit to the global calls-to-action to contribute to a more sustainable future. The Group, having established its presence in Hong Kong for more than 50 years, is also setting targets to achieve net zero carbon by 2050. Guided by its “Creating Better Lifescapes” credo, Sino Group has introduced a wide range of eco-friendly and green initiatives to bring communities closer to nature.

Malaysia’s top corporations are also faring well in sustainability performance while transitioning towards carbon neutrality.

Top Glove, the world’s largest maker of gloves, headquartered in Malaysia, has not only set clear sustainability goals to achieve by FY2025, but it is also holding its management accountable with 40% of the team’s remunerations tied to ESG performance. Today, Top Glove has more sustainable products on offer, such as biodegradable nitrile gloves that can degrade at least 10 times faster than regular gloves, while their factories are increasingly shifting toward greater reliance on solar energy.

For Malaysia’s energy company, PETRONAS, the journey towards sustainability is via the circular economy model: by eliminating waste and pollution, circulating products and materials, and regenerating nature. Moving away gradually from activities that involve the consumption of finite resources, the global company, with a presence in more than 50 countries, is now providing renewable energy such as solar technology solutions and low-carbon fuels like natural gas as part of its energy offerings. In the past three years, PETRONAS has seen a threefold increase in demand for its clean energy and it will continue to scale up in this direction, possibly adding hydrogen as an alternative energy source.

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.

www.petronas.com/sustainability

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..”

– SHAYAN F. RAHMAN, CHAIRMAN OF BEXIMCO COMMUNICATIONS

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.

To find out more

www.beximco.com

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.

 

ICTSI: A Crucial Partner In The Philippines’ Pandemic Recovery

The Solaire-ICTSI Vaccination Center at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino park in Paranaque was built at no cost to the government as part of efforts to help achieve herd immunity in the country.

With the Covid-19 pandemic upending the global economy and severely impacting international trade, the role of ports as vital economic lifelines has never been more pronounced. Driven by passion to serve its stakeholders, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI)—with its ports operating 24/7 across 20 countries and six continents—has proven to be a steadfast partner of the Philippines in facing current challenges.

To navigate its way out of the pandemic, the Philippines needs to speed up the vaccination program across the country to revive the economy. No stranger to overcoming headwinds, the Manila-headquartered global ports giant led by billionaire Enrique K. Razon Jr. is supporting both government and private sector efforts in vaccine procurement and distribution.

At the height of the pandemic last year, ICTSI joined the private sector initiative to procure three million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and donated 150,000 doses to the Philippine government. The company also partnered with the government in procuring more than 20 million doses of the first batch of Moderna vaccine to arrive in the country, funding and facilitating the international logistics for the order.

ICTSI also spearheaded the construction of the mega vaccination center at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino park near the Manila international airport, facilitating the efficient distribution and administration of the vaccines to residents of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

With the country’s continued recovery threatened by the lingering pandemic, ICTSI donated an additional 68,300 doses of AstraZeneca to 12 local government units in August. The company is cautiously optimistic that the Philippines’ economic recovery can be sustained now that the vaccination program has made significant headway in the country.

Resilient Performance

ICTSI utilizes technology to help save the environment by rolling out eco-friendly hybrid rubber-tired gantries.

Despite prevailing headwinds brought on by the pandemic, ICTSI posted a resilient performance in the nine months ended September 30, with net profit climbing 73% to US$316.4 million compared to the previous year as global trade recovered across Asia, the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Revenue from port operations increased 24% to US$1.4 billion, while EBITDA improved 29% to US$829.4 million.

“This is extremely encouraging,” Razon said. “The company’s robust financial position provides a foundation to fund capital expenditures entirely through our strong cash flows and continue to grow ICTSI sustainably for the long term benefit of all our stakeholders.”

ICTSI saw robust organic growth across most of its terminals around the world, supported by prudent actions taken by the company at the onset of the pandemic, as well as considerable improvement in trade activities and favorable business conditions across the diverse markets in which it operates.

“We remain mindful that the pandemic continues to create challenges throughout our industry,” Razon said. “We have good momentum to deliver further disciplined growth and we look to the future with confidence.”

Going Green On A Blue Ocean

Contecon Guayaquil in Ecuador handled the world’s first carbon-neutral-certified container shipment on 12 December 2020.

Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, ICTSI is tirelessly implementing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. The company is moving forward with programs to advance sustainability efforts and push for a greener future.

The company is supporting conservation and eco-conscious advocacies, including the preservation of Palawan—considered as the Philippines’ last frontier—and the cleanup of Pasig River, which connects several municipalities across the Philippine capital. ICTSI’s Manila flagship terminal is also located at the mouth of the river.

ICTSI is also implementing key operational changes to boost energy and fuel efficiency at its ports, while reducing waste, pollution, and carbon emissions. Committed to building a “better normal,” the company recognizes the crucial role technology plays in advancing a more environment-friendly supply chain.

In the past few years, ICTSI has been upgrading its fleet of vehicles to be more fuel-efficient, cutting by half its carbon emissions. The company has also rolled out green initiatives such as eco-friendly wash bays, wastewater recycling facilities, solar-powered warehouses, noise pollution reduction projects, and energy efficient lighting systems at its container terminals.

ICTSI’s Manila flagship terminal replaced its old lighting system with new eco-efficient LED systems.

There is a concerted effort to ensure a sustainable recovery from the pandemic, beyond just going green. Being in the pole position to further this goal, ICTSI sees the future of ports and shipping evolving, leading to a more sustainable and inclusive maritime supply chain. ICTSI has shown it can manage the shift by handling the world’s first carbon-neutral shipment at the Contecon Guayaquil terminal in Ecuador, the first carbon-neutral port in South America.

With its solid performance in port development, strong balance sheet, and far-reaching vision, ICTSI is ready for a more connected, resilient, and sustainable new world coming up on the horizon.

 

 

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.

To find out more

www.beximcopharma.com

Closing The Gap: Reimagining Cybersecurity In The Age Of Digital Acceleration

With the digital acceleration process outpacing even the boldest of estimates, cybersecurity strategies need to be radically reimagined if organizations are to have any real chance of managing the emerging technological risks. Tasked with assessing the scale of the challenge facing cybersecurity experts and professionals, three industry thought leaders turned a keynote session at the CLOUDSEC 2021 event into a high-tech summit, detailing both the priority issues that need to be addressed and the solutions that will ensure success in a future that has arrived much sooner than anyone ever anticipated.

Led by Rich Karlgaard, Forbes Media’s Futurist and Editor-at-Large, the panel saw Dhanya Thakkar, Trend Micro’s Senior Vice President for Asia, Middle East and Africa, and Nilesh Jain, Trend Micro’s Vice President for South East Asia and India, turn their attention to the defining cybersecurity issues of the day, assessing the global state of play while also drawing the focus down to the ground-floor challenges facing businesses throughout the wider Asian region.

Among the wide-ranging array of topics covered during the course of the session were:

Speed of Change

With five years of expected digital acceleration compressed into the last six months alone, how can businesses cope with what is—arguably—the biggest challenge of our time?

Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap

Given the rate of digital acceleration, how can cybersecurity professionals expand both their financial resources and their skillsets in order to ensure they counter any exploitable technological vulnerabilities?

Cloud-Led Digital Acceleration

Why it is important legacy businesses consider a shift towards a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model before they look to commit to a cloud migration that may well be incompatible with their systems, culture and objectives.

The Cybersecurity Bottleneck

With the shortfall in the number of properly skilled and experienced coders unlikely to be remedied any time soon, the need for low-code and no-code cybersecurity software has never been greater. Given the growing complexity of corporate digital infrastructure though, is the current generation of solutions up to the task?

Boosting Security by Building a Culture of Trust

With many in the industry now seeing a direct correlation between a company’s number of security breaches and its number of unhappy employees, is it now time to reassess corporate priorities? In short, does it now add more value to prioritize the well-being of employees above the interests of customers or stakeholders?


Founded in 2011, CLOUDSEC has established itself as the key global forum for cybersecurity experts and professionals. Hosted by award-winning multinational cybersecurity software company Trend Micro, the 2021 event took “Reimagine Your Cloud” as its overall theme and featured more than 100 sessions, cementing its status as the sector’s only truly global thought leadership platform duly enriched by regional uniqueness.

The free-to-view high-level cyber-security summit can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3COSj6d or by scanning the QR code below.

A wider range of video content from CLOUDSEC 2021 can be viewed here:

https://www.cloudsec.com

Singapore Scales New Heights

Despite the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore is taking center stage amid a resurgence in businesses, a calibrated resumption of travel, and upbeat consumer sentiment. The city-state has clearly regained its confidence as a global financial hub, with the growing number of wealthy entrepreneurs snapping up posh homes in prime residential districts, sending prices to record highs.

Adding to signs that the Singapore economy is returning to normalcy, the nation’s economic growth climbed a reassuring 7.1% in the third quarter compared to the previous year. This nascent recovery has boosted the country’s burgeoning fintech industry and the ever-resilient luxury real estate market. No doubt, the substantial economic stimulus measures announced by the government in the most recent budget has helped to further bolster economic activity across the board.

Peak of Luxury

While the restoration of international links has empowered certain sectors, it’s the legacy of the sundry local lockdowns that has brought added vitality to some businesses. With staying at home required for some people and the preferred choice for others over the past two years, the primacy of having access to truly resplendent residential spaces has never been greater.

Residential spaces don’t come more resplendent than the Wallich Residence, a skyscraper at the heart of Singapore’s central business district. The occupants of one of Singapore’s loftiest living spaces can endure pandemic-enforced confinement in the utmost comfort.

Inevitably, demand has soared for the remaining units in this deluxe abode, which extends from the 39th to 64th floor of the Guoco Tower, the city’s tallest and most exclusive mixed use residential, office and hotel structure. Now that fine dining and cultural exploration are very much back on the menu, the ultra-connectivity of the residence’s city center location has only further enhanced its allure.

Transborder Transactions

With trade rebounding, restrictions on travel being scaled down and supply chains surging back into life, the need for efficient and unfettered digital payments into China has become a priority for many international businesses. This bodes well for Aleta Planet, a Singapore fintech firm that processes cross-border digital payments.

Founded seven years ago, the successful rollout of its flagship AP-1 digital card has positioned Aleta Planet among the major players facilitating rapid and secure payments to China-based business partners and suppliers. AP-1 allows international users to make payments in China without the need for a local bank account.

This app-based system allows payments to be cleared into UnionPay personal accounts worldwide or to qualified WeChat users in China in an instant, much faster than the 2 to 4 business days it takes via telegraphic transfer. With its mainland system in place, the company is looking to replicate its services in other jurisdictions, making it ideally equipped to meet the needs of Singapore’s increasingly global businesses.