The Business Year

Datuk Zainal Amanshah

MALAYSIA - Economy

The Greater Good

CEO, InvestKL


Datuk Zainal Amanshah was appointed CEO of InvestKL in 2011. He has more than 20 years of private sector experience and has held senior positions at multinationals, Malaysian companies, and start-ups. He holds a degree in Electronic Engineering from the University of Kent and is currently the CEO of InvestKL.

"The Principle Hub Initiative is an initiative designed to make Greater Kuala Lumpur even more attractive to foreign investors."

What are the competitive advantages of Kuala Lumpur as an investment destination as well as a location to set up regional headquarters?

First of all these multinationals look not only at Malaysia and Greater Kuala Lumpur, but the whole region. The tendency is for them to look at ASEAN because of the population, size, GDP, and economic indicators, which are all positive in comparison to other geographies. Then they look at which location is most suitable. There is a slight difference between the Greater Kuala Lumpur proposition and the Malaysian proposition. We are positioning Greater Kuala Lumpur as the location for multinationals to set up regional headquarters, whether they are engaged in business services, engineering, finance, retail, supply chain, or healthcare. Greater Kuala Lumpur offers the total package of cost competitiveness and a thriving business ecosystem, in addition to having a broader talent pool. We are also English speaking, multicultural, and have access to the region. The broader business opportunities in Asia are accessible as the city is centrally located, and the government is making it easier to do business with business-friendly policies and a competitive tax regime. The cost on its own is not good enough—it is the combination of both cost and a strong business ecosystem that provides an overall package for investors. Greater Kuala Lumpur offers a single location that we like to call an optimal venue for multinationals’ regional headquarters.

How does InvestKL work with other government agencies to attract foreign investments here?

We work very well with other government agencies. Malaysia is divided up into different development corridors; the Northern Corridor, the East Coast Corridor, Iskandar, and then the corridors in Sabah and Sarawak. So if a company is manufacturing in Penang, for example, the actual manufacturing will be in the free trade zone in Penang, but the headquarters can be located in Greater Kuala Lumpur. We are not competing; we are complimenting each other. All of the regional headquarters should be located in Greater Kuala Lumpur because this is the heart of Asia for business operations and naturally where the companies’ intellectual property and key decision makers will reside. Greater Kuala Lumpur is the location for centralising operations for these organizations, and ultimately when we engage with a multinational contact we will do it here.

“The Principle Hub Initiative is an initiative designed to make Greater Kuala Lumpur even more attractive to foreign investors.”

How will the infrastructure projects underway increase the attractiveness of KL both as a place to do business and to live?

There are two parts to that answer; first of all, you have to look at what business opportunities these projects present. Many engineering companies appreciate what our government is doing and the business opportunities available to them. When companies know about the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project and high-speed rail project and are keen to become involved, they will set up their regional headquarters here. The same company that worked on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa has its regional headquarters here. From a quality of life standpoint, the biggest green project we have right now is the MRT project. Greater Kuala Lumpur is going to grow from 6.5 to 10 million; therefore, without the infrastructure it will get very congested, and we will not be able to complete our vision of making Greater Kuala Lumpur into a modern and world-class city. This has become extremely important. Besides transportation, the revitalising of the Klang Valley river project will also help to enhance the quality of life and provide additional avenue for business opportunities. When all of these infrastructure projects are completed, Greater Kuala Lumpur will truly be a well-connected city with great quality of life, which makes it easy to do business.

What are the elements of the recently announced Principle Hub Initiative and how does this complement the work of InvestKL?

The Principle Hub Initiative is a game-changing initiative designed to make Greater Kuala Lumpur even more attractive to foreign investors. The Principle Hub is considered the control tower, where multinational companies set up strategic regional bases to conduct and manage their regional and global operations across several countries more effectively and efficiently. This initiative provides investors with attractive incentives to establish Principal Hub in Greater Kuala Lumpur for the region to streamline operations and better optimise resources, capabilities and cost. At InvestKL we can help investors to align the incentives with the investments commitment. It is designed to attract even more substance from the multinationals coming into Greater Kuala Lumpur and further enhance our position as a regional headquarters especially with Malaysia taking the ASEAN chair in 2015.

© The Business Year – May 2015



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