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Malaysia 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Datuk Zainal Amanshah, CEO of InvestKL, on Kuala Lumpur's strategic location, cooperation with other governments, and the Principle Hub Initiative.

Datuk Zainal Amanshah
BIOGRAPHY
Datuk Zainal Amanshah was appointed CEO of InvestKL in 2011. With more than 22 years of experience in the private sector, Zainal has held senior positions in multinationals, Malaysian companies, and start-ups. Prior to joining InvestKL, he was the Group CEO of REDtone, a Malaysian publicly listed telecommunications provider. He as also one of the company’s founders. Over the course of his career, Zainal has familiarized himself with many industries including banking, insurance, oil and gas, automotive, and manufacturing. He graduated with a BSc in Electronic Engineering from the University of Kent in 1989. He has also attend courses such as the Harvard Premier Business Management Program in 2007 and the Wharton School of Finance Program.

What are the competitive advantages of KL 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 that are all positive in comparison to other geographies. Then they look at which location is suitable for them. There is a slight difference between the Greater Kuala Lumpur proposition and the Malaysian proposition. We are positioning Greater Kuala Lumpur as the location to set up regional headquarters for multinationals, whether they are in business services, engineering, finance, retail, supply chain or healthcare. Greater Kuala Lumpur offers the total package of having cost competitiveness and a thriving business ecosystem in addition to having a broader talent pool.

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

We cooperate extensively with other government agencies. Malaysia is divided into different development corridors: the Northern Corridor, the East Coast Corridor, Iskandar, and then the corridors in Sabah and Sarawak. If a company is doing 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.

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

There are two parts to that answer; first of all, you have to look at what business opportunities these projects present. There are many engineering companies that like what our government is doing and the business opportunities that are available to them. When companies know about the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project and high-speed rail project and want to get involved, they will set up their regional headquarters here. The same company that worked on Dubai's Burj Khalifa has their 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 a population of 6.5 million 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.

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 optimize resources, capabilities, and costs. 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.