MANILA, Philippines – The 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) has received a total of $108 billion in foreign direct investments (FDIs) last year.

In the same period, Citi was involved in merger and acquisition (M&As) deals in the Asean economic block valued at $60 billion.

Citi country officer for Singapore and head of the Asean market Michael Zink said that the Asean received more investments than the combined markets of China, India, and Indonesia last year.

“There is a rising tide driven by the Asean economic bloc, and we (Citi) has taken a bet (for the bloc),” Zink said.

Citi has a presence in seven of the 10 Asean member nations.

But he said that their lack of physical presence in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia is not a hindrance.

Citi matches resources of the three countries with prospective or interested foreign investors.

It also “introduces” the countries to prospective foreign investors.

The Asean expert said that Citi can help raise funds from the interested investors, and they can introduce the three nations to the idea of raising funds from the global capital markets.

For the rest of the Asean bloc, the global financial institution has kept working with the respective governments and the different sectors, areas of raising funds, tapping the capital markets, looking for strategic partnerships, and consummate M&A deals.

Foreign investors for example are looking for an efficient supply chain for their global operations.

Zink admitted that there are several global automobile assemblers looking at the Asean as a location for its assembly plants, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Philippines is part of the global supply chain in the form of supplying parts of the automobile.

Majority of the present locators in the country’s export processing zone are foreign small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are part of the supply chain.

Zink and the rest of Citi is not bothered by the inability of Asean not to meet the 2015 integration deadline.

“Whether it is 2015, 2017 or 2020, it will happen and those who have already invested will reap the benefits of believing,” the Citi executive added. –Ted Torres (The Philippine Star)