Foreign Interest In New Businesses Formed In Singapore

Despite a particularly challenging year on the global economic front, the number of company formations recorded in Singapore during 2016 has remained consistent. The share of foreign individuals setting up companies in Singapore went up sharply to 44% in 2016.

22 February 2017



In particular, 2016 has been a positive year for foreign individuals choosing Singapore as the base for setting up their new ventures, underscoring Singapore’s reputation as a solid business haven against the volatile macro environment. 64,748 businesses were formed in Singapore during 2016, just 0.1% fewer than in 2015.


The final quarters of both 2015 and 2016 both recorded a 5.7% decrease against the third quarter of the year. These figures remain within the healthy range and are in keeping the annual averages registered in recent years, with the exception of 2014.


Against 2015, the share of foreign held companies shot up from 35% to 51%. 49 foreign company branch offices were set up in Q4 2016, a significant expansion of 53.1% against Q3. Compared with 2015, more Exempt Private Companies (4.4%) and Foreign Company Branch Offices (10.4%) were set up in 2016. Subsidiary formation by foreign companies continued to account for 47% in the total subsidiary formations in Q4. Entities from British Virgin Islands (6%) and Hong Kong (5%) continue to account for the highest share of foreign subsidiaries formed.


Singapore continued to attract international investors and entrepreneurs. The share of companies formed by foreign individual shareholders increased from 44% in Q3 to 45% in Q4. Individuals from India, China and Malaysia continue to dominate. Individual investors are also increasingly coming from diverse countries such as Japan, Philippines and South Korea.


While the share of foreign individuals setting up companies in Singapore went up sharply to 44% in 2016 from 26% (2015), the share of foreign subsidiaries being set up in Singapore declined by one percentage point to 48%. In 2016, the share of subsidiaries from Hong Kong and Australia each increased by one percentage point in 2016, 5% and 4% respectively. The share of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian subsidiaries increased significantly in 2016 against 2015. The share of Indonesian, Australian and the UK individuals setting up companies in Singapore increased marginally in 2016.