SINGAPORE: General Motors (GM) last week said it would move the headquarters of its international operations to Singapore from Shanghai, boosting the city-state’s status as a regional business hub.
Detroit-based GM said in a statement that the relocation of its consolidated international operations would take place in the second quarter of next year. The new headquarters “will oversee key parts” of GM’s business in Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, India, South Korea and the Middle East, as well as Chevrolet and Cadillac in Europe, the statement added.
There will be 120 employees in Singapore. GM will keep 250 employees in Shanghai and 245 in Seoul.
GM said the move would allow it to focus on China, the world’s biggest vehicle market, while strengthening its presence in other countries in the region. The Singapore headquarters will “lead the company’s umbrella strategy for the region,” GM said, adding that Singapore offers several advantages, including “greater proximity” to key international markets like Southeast Asia and India, the Middle East and Africa.
Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, said the move signals a growing perception that the city-state is “trumping” Shanghai and Hong Kong as the preferred location for regional offices.
“Singapore is now being seen not only as a purely Southeast Asian hub, but also an Asian hub with wide networks,” Teoh said.
Singapore hosts thousands of multinational corporations that have set up regional or global operations. Shanghai has sought for several years to lure foreign companies by offering financial subsidies which effectively reduce their tax payments.
China is GM’s largest overseas market, with the US firm selling around 2.8 million vehicles in the country in 2012. GM has 12 joint ventures and two wholly-owned companies in China, employing 55,000 people.