For a few years now MalaysiaSpecialisten have been promoting Malaysia to Scandinavians as a tourist country and also its Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme targeting foreign investors.
The former Astra Zeneca employees Jan Orrnert and his partner Sarojini Thangavelu, have promoted MM2H along with Prakash Aramugam, who is an expert on visas and other permits and with excellent access to various government agencies in Malaysia.
Now the time has come to expand these services and with Sweden and Scandinavia primarily in mind as target area, to become a gateway, a door opener, to Malaysia with a new service entity called Portensis.
Walking before running
Here a number of additional skills within various fields of expertise have been brought in to form an expert group that can fully help investors and business start-ups in Malaysia. And key to the constellation is the combination of Swedes and Malaysians.
Behind the thinking is that they understand Sweden and know Malaysia so they are the bridge between these two countries, and in a larger extent Scandinavia.
“But we have to start with Sweden; walking before we’re running,” says Jan who also leads the group.
And Swedes trust Swedes and Scandinavians better when it comes to investing abroad, adds Sarojini.
The Swedish meaning for port is door, or gate, explains Jan.
In Malaysia this name also reflects the word ‘potential’, which is typically a very Malaysian thinking, adds Richard Jacob, who has for the past 15 years been coaching Malaysian top and middle level managers within marketing, leadership, strategy and economics.
“When it comes to MM2H we can serve also Norwegian, Finnish and Danish companies as well as individuals. In Scandinavia our business culture is similar – we have the same way of thinking,” says Jan.
“The idea with this is to offer a one-stop centre. In most aspects we should be able to cater to what the client need, and we’ll be outsourcing what we don’t have in-house,” says Sarojini.
Filling the gap
“If you compare to the Swedish Trade Council, our combined network is tremendous,” says Jan.
He thinks that a vacuum has been there all along – to go beyond research and feasibility studies.
“Nobody has moved into this. We started thinking of it when the embassy closure was announced and realised this is a business idea and where a lot can be done. There’s a lack of knowledge in Sweden of the tremendous potential that Malaysia has.”
“The embassy will reopen, but we are not competing; we rather complement them. What we can do is not only to give theoretical advice – all of us have been working in this market and possess a lot of experience and contacts. And we know in practice how to implement things; we have been out there, going through the processes of starting companies, including obstacles and having serious problems. Compared to Swedish Trade Council I think we have a much broader perspective – we can offer everything under one umbrella. When clients turn to them they get advice where to go while if coming to us they’re already there – we can get the job done.”
Establishing something in Malaysia as a foreigner one needs help, is Portensis standpoint.
“Because if you’re going in the wrong way you can make very expensive mistakes and it could cause a lot of delays, so knowledge about a new environment and understanding are of key importance that we can bring to companies,” the Swede explains further. Jan has himself worked to build up the Swedish medical giant Astra Zeneca in Malaysia.
A second thing is that companies established in Malaysia can get on-going support from Portensis, including staff training to improve productivity as well as recruitment. A head hunter will be added to the group for this service part. And crisis management is also there.
Third are individuals who move here on their own. Among people coming within the MM2H programme there are entrepreneurs, for example, keen on investing.
Tommy Lagerhjelm in addition mentions Malaysian companies wanting to target Europe.
“If you want to establish yourself as a serious player in Europe, Sweden is the perfect target market because the standards are so high. Then we really can help preparing those companies who are going there. We know Sweden, and Swedish people and among us we have the network.”
Tommy is a tax advisor and asset management expert who is the group’s expert on taxes and company setups, both in Malaysia and offshore in Labuan tax haven.
“Kuala Lumpur is a fantastic place to have a regional head office in,” he says. “You have here a country in the region with an infrastructure that is good. You also have English-speaking people, and you can find highly qualified people for the positions in your company and with a fairly low cost level. And you can find very good housing. And it’s very easy for families to live here, you have very good international schools and the cost of living is low.”
The strong belief in Malaysia’s advantages as a country where to live and invest in by purchasing a home or setting up a business and production, is the main driving force for the group.
“Malaysia is a tax paradise because it is a tax paradise. It has just not yet been discovered by the majority of Europeans with money,” states Jan.
Referring to the abundance of natural resources Richard Jacob describes it as a very blessed country.
“Having said that – looking at these ambitions and goals that the government has – the opportunities are tremendous for Scandinavians. But a key to the success of tapping these opportunities are networking and connections that gets you into that. If you see a window of opportunity go out and grab it! And there are many of those. So it depends on the type of investor and it’s a question of how smart you are rather than working with certainty and with assurances – that’s a very slow strategy. And the investors from Scandinavia are smart. Then both parties win – ‘cause one of the opportunities in this country is that they lack talent.”
Read between the lines – that’s where Portensis sets out to assist.
Foreign expertise is used to a large extent.
“And they feel damn good to pay foreign consultants.”
It’s a whole new landscape, according to Richard, as Malaysia is aiming to become a high- income nation based on a high-skilled, knowledge-based and innovation-intensive economy.
“Within education, and oil and gas, clearly there is massive interest for foreign direct investment.”
In order to facilitate this, Malaysia is implementing simpler and streamlined processes for hiring expat labour, as well as that a host of restrictions on foreign investment – including a controversial rule requiring businesses to be partly owned by ethnic Malays – have been relaxed.
As the Portensis group gathered Malaysia’s challenges were discussed at length – but that’s another story.
“The bottom line is that Malaysia is on the right way but a lot more needs to be done and things can be done better and faster,” ends Jan.
Full presentation of the group: www.portensis.com/vara-experter.html