HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Mukhtar Hussain

KUALA LUMPUR: China could be looking at turning Malaysia into its hub for the Asean markets, said HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Mukhtar Hussain.

“China views Malaysia as a strategic partner in Asean but given the pipeline that we are seeing now, Malaysia may become a platform for Chinese companies in Asean,” he said.

“We have seen many Chinese companies from various sectors setting up its headquarters here and this could be the trend going forward,” said Mukhtar at a briefing, here, yesterday.

He outlined three main reasons for why Malaysia was looked on favourably by the Chinese firms.

“The first would be the talent, which ranges from being multilingual to being familiar with working with Chinese companies. Secondly, the cost of doing business is relatively cheaper, here.

“Thirdly, Malaysia’s existing relationship with other Asean countries is good. Thus, having their regional headquarters here will allow them greater efficiency in terms of trade, travel and communications services,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian banking sector is set to experience slower growth this year, in tandem with the nation’s economic growth forecast.

“I think the banking sector, in the next 12 to 24 months, would probably slow down in line with the slow growth in gross domestic product,” said Mukhtar.

He said the local banking system was well regulated by Bank Negara Malaysia, which might help the institutions to better weather market uncertainties.

“The banks are well capitalised. They are prudent. Hopefully, that will mean that during the period of slow growth, the institutions can manage themselves perfectly well,” said Mukhtar.

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