Two Malaysian Firms Set To Establish Strong Foothold In The Netherlands

By Dalila Abu Bakar
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 (Bernama)

Dewina Food Industries Sdn Bhd, popular with Halal food brand “Brahim’s” and green IT solutions provider, Basis Bay Group, have decided to expand their business operations to that European nation. Project Manager at Kuala Lumpur-based Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency Agnes Seah said the agency had assisted the firms to realise their ventures in the Netherlands.

Dewina, a pioneer in the manufacturing of premium quality convenience food in retort pouches, is looking at plans to further tap the European halal market and the Netherlands is likely to be its gateway into Europe.

Seah said Dewina, which already had a brand presence in Europe, was considering a possible entry strategy to capture a share of the halal market in Europe by setting up an eatery or a fast-food outlet to cater to the local population and transit passengers, going beyond distribution of sauces, pastes and meals.

“Several choices of locations are still being studied, with the most likely option being Amsterdam,” she told BERNAMA. The outlet will be Dewina’s first venture into the restaurant business.

Dewina plans to invest a sizeable amount spread over three to five years.

The Netherlands Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Jan A. Soer said the Port of Rotterdam was the only port in Europe with halal certification.

“The Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam is a major transit hub, particularly for passengers travelling between Europe and the Middle East,” said Soer.

The Netherlands Embassy Head of Section (Trade and Economic Relations) Bart Beltman said there were about 30 million Muslims in Europe, of whom one million resided in the Netherlands and there was also a growing number of non-Muslims who preferred halal food.

Meanwhile, Basis Bay, a leader in Green IT services and Green data centres in Asia, is looking at leveraging on Amsterdam’s strategic positioning to seek business opportunities in Europe.

It is also looking to the Netherlands for mergers and acquisitions and business partnerships to gain a presence in the Dutch market.

Seah said the company was still considering options in terms of location and choice of business partners. Major companies that have established green data centres in the country include Hitachi Europe and SmartDC.

The Netherlands also has Netherlands Internet Exchange (NL-ix) hub, one of the world’s largest public Internet exchanges with over 270 members and coverage in more than 30 data centres.

NL-ix provides a high-grade platform and solutions to exchange and transport traffic including Peering, Community specific services, capacity and BandMarket service access and service distribution.

A recent survey by Akamai showed the Netherlands has the fastest Internet connection in Europe.

“Basis Bay’s reason for the selection of The Netherlands is its human capital. The country has a skilled, multi-lingual workforce, which the IT solutions provider can tap on. This makes for improved cross-sharing of knowledge, a world-class workforce and other “soft skills” advantages,” Seah said.

Soer said about 100 Dutch companies had offices or were represented in Malaysia and among them were TNT, ING, Shell, Philipps, Akzo Nobel and KLM.

There are 1,400 Dutch living in Malaysia and about 100,000 Dutch tourists visit Malaysia annually.

Beltman said Malaysia and the Netherlands had strong economic relations with the latter being Malaysia’s 13th largest trading partner last year.

He said Malaysia’s exports to the Netherlands increased to RM20.2 billion last year from RM18.4 billion in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ exports to Malaysia was RM3.4 billion last year vis-a-vis RM3.5 billion in 2009.

The Netherlands is the seventh largest foreign investor in Malaysia last year and direct investments from the Netherlands in Malaysia doubled to about RM1 billion in 2010.