Singapore – Ideal Destination for Founders of Fast Growth Companies.

September 1, 2022

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As a leading financial hub in Asia, Singapore benefits from government policies that position the country as a city open to trade while attracting foreign direct investment inflows and that welcomes overseas businesses to set up shop on its shores. This has cemented Singapore’s position as one of Asia’s top financial hubs, with many multinational corporations already establishing a pivotal presence here. Singapore is the fourth largest financial centre globally and the third richest in the world. It’s home to the biggest foreign exchange (FX) centre in Asia-Pacific and the third largest worldwide, after New York and London.

With access to excellent healthcare, education, and housing, Singapore is an extremely viable country for ultra-high net worth individuals to consider as a stable home as well as a headquarter for potential expansion in the region. Other wider benefits include Singapore being a food capital catering for both casual and fine-dining restaurants, a multi-lingual society and having established leading private banking and wealth management institutions.

Business-wise, Singapore’s strategic location in the heart of Southeast Asia makes its port a major player that is always bustling with activity. Its proximity to other countries and key markets in the region open up many possibilities for investors and businesses based here. In addition, the city is consistently ranked among the topmost politically and operationally safe countries in the world, as one of the world’s most connected countries with access to major trade, shipping and aviation routes, and a highly educated workforce. Singapore leads as the top Asia location for the regional headquarters of top 100 technology MNCs, hosts global R&D labs for leading Fortune 500 companies and is the world’s fourth largest exporter of high-tech products.

Global Investor Programme

For business owners who are interested in relocating and investing in Singapore, the Global Investor Programme (“GIP”) is an attractive option to invest in Singapore and acquire Singapore Permanent Residency (“SPR”) at the same time. GIP is a fast-track program administered by the Economic Development Board (“EDB”) and grants SPR status to qualifying investors. EDB provides four different categories under which interested investors can qualify for the program: Established Business Owners, Next Generation Business Owners, Founders of Fast Growth Companies and Family Office Principals.

Particularly, the Founders of Fast Growth Companies (“FFGC”) category is targeted at successful entrepreneurs in Fast Growth Industries who are looking for the next opportunity for expansion while providing the best for their family and next generation.

To qualify for GIP, the FFGC applicant must fulfil the following criteria:

  1. The applicant must be a founder and one of the largest individual shareholders of the company with a valuation of at least S$500 million;
  2. The applicant’s company must be invested into by reputable Venture Capital /Private Equity firms; and
  3. The company must be engaged in one or more of the industries listed in Annex B*.

Where the FFGC applicant fulfils the above criteria, they will have to invest S$2.5 million into Singapore through three options:

  1. Personally invest in a new business entity or in the expansion of an existing business operation engaged in one of the industries listed in Annex B; or
    • A detailed 5-year business plan must be submitted to EDB for assessment based on its feasibility, applicant’s role in the company, business activities and creation of local jobs.
    • Applicant must have at least 30% shareholding in the company and must be part of the company’s management team.
  2. Invest in a GIP fund that invests in Singapore-based companies; or
    • There are currently two VC funds approved for investment under GIP**.
  3. Invest in a new or existing Singapore-based family office having Assets-Under Management of at least S$200 million.

Beyond the required investment above, EDB expects GIP applicants to have business plans in Singapore which will incur an (incremental) annual total business expenditure of at least S$ 2 million and employ 10 (more) employees with at least 5 Singapore Citizens by year 5 of their permanent residency. Business plans reflecting the same should be submitted to EDB during the application phase in order to facilitate GIP approval.

A successful application under GIP grants investors SPR status, allowing the investor to live, work and conduct business in Singapore.  Apart from obtaining SPR for themselves, main applicants can also opt to apply for SPR for their spouse and children who are single and below 21 years old. Kindly note that male children will be liable for National Service. A five-year Re-Entry Permit (“REP”) will also be granted, which allows for SPRs to travel in and out of Singapore without any visa requirements.

Renewal of the REP will be granted, if the following conditions are met by the 5th year of the SPR status, for either another 3 or 5 years depending on the following:

  1. The applicant has fulfilled the investment conditions of the GIP;
  2. The Singapore business that the applicant invested in must employ at least 10 employees with at least 5 Singapore Citizens, and incurs an annual total business expenditure of at least S$2 million in year 5 of the business plan;
  3. The applicant or all their dependants, who obtained PR under the GIP application, must have resided in Singapore for at least 2 ½ years during the preceding 5 years.

For a 5-year renewal, the applicant must have fulfilled all three of the above criteria. For a 3-year renewal, the applicant must have fulfilled criteria (i), and either criteria (ii) or (iii).

How SMTP Can help

For some founders of fast growth companies, applying for GIP represents a point of transition in their business as the business diversifies and seek new opportunities in Singapore. As immigration is a key change in lifestyle, applicants are strongly advised to carefully plan out their business plans in Singapore in order to ensure that their transition into Singapore is both sustainable and smooth in the long run.

Here at Sim Mong Teck & Partners, our private client practice has a wealth of experience in assisting our ultra-high net worth clients and successful entrepreneurs with their immigration and residency plans in Singapore. With our years of expertise in navigating the GIP process, our lawyers are well-equipped to guide our clients in their applications and provide advice on the next steps required to reach their holistic needs and goals.

Should you or your clients require any assistance or advice, please feel free to contact our Business Development Team to schedule a consultation with our team.

*Annex B (List of Industries) refer to:

  1. Aerospace Engineering
  2. Alternative Energy / Clean Technology
  3. Automotive
  4. Chemicals
  5. Consumer Business (e.g. flavors and fragrances, food ingredients, nutrition, home and personal care)
  6. Electronics
  7. Energy
  8. Engineering Services
  9. Healthcare
  10. Infocomm Products & Services
  11. Logistics & Supply Chain Management
  12. Marine & Offshore Engineering
  13. Media & Entertainment
  14. Medical Technology
  15. Nanotechnology
  16. Natural Resources (e.g. metals, mining, agri-commodities)
  17. Safety & Security
  18. Space
  19. Shipping
  20. Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology
  21. Precision Engineering
  22. Professional Services (e.g. consulting, design)
  23. Arts Businesses
    1. Visual arts businesses (e.g. auction houses, art logistics / storage
    2. Performing arts businesses
  24. Sports Businesses
  25. Family Office & Financial Services

**Please note that it is insufficient to simply invest in the GIP funds. In addition to this, applicants are also expected to establish a new business or expand an existing one, but unlike GIP applicants proceeding under Option A, they can have their Main Business capitalise the new/existing business in exchange for equity.