AsiaMedic sees opportunities in Myanmar and looks set to follow in the footsteps of other Singapore firms that are seeking a toehold in the developing South-east Asian nation. -- PHOTO: ASIAMEDIC
LOCAL health-care company AsiaMedic is looking to follow other firms and expand into the fast growing market of Myanmar.
Chief executive Wong Weng Hong said the company is speaking to potential local partners and checking out potential sites.
It is open to providing a wide spectrum of services, from primary care like general practitioner services to hospitals.
Dr Wong describes Myanmar as being like Singapore '30 to 40 years ago'.
'If you go into a GP clinic, you see lots of people waiting to see a doctor. The pricing is not high, it's reasonable,' he noted.
AsiaMedic's plans for Myanmar signal a move away from the home-grown company's niche here where it provides health screening and medical imaging services at its centre in Shaw House in Orchard Road.
The firm, which is listed on the Catalist board, could also expand here and may open another centre in the city but its larger focus will be overseas.
As Dr Wong told The Straits Times, Singapore is 'too small' for AsiaMedic.
'We need to fight with Parkway, with Raffles, with Thomson. To grow and be dominant here is going to be difficult.'
He founded Healthway Medical Corp in 1990 and listed it on the Catalist in 2008 but left the company in February last year to head his investment and consultancy firms.
He returned to the medical scene as AsiaMedic's chief executive in March.
He sees huge potential in Asia's newest frontier. 'Myanmar lacks specialised expertise, and there is a lack of capital. For AsiaMedic, we believe we have the expertise, we have the capital, and we have the reputation,' he said.
'We have met people over there, including the established health-care facility owners. There is some expression that there are opportunities to work together,' he added.
AsiaMedic has also been expanding in China.
Its post-natal confinement centre and medical centre are both due to be up and running in Shanghai within a month.
Dr Wong noted that in China, people are willing to pay for only select medical services, such as wellness and post-natal care, and prefer to go to government hospitals for other medical needs.
'Our priority now is Myanmar and China. Two months ago if you asked me, it was China and Myanmar,' he said, referring to the switch in priorities.
AsiaMedic prefers to tie up with local partners when undertaking overseas ventures and goes for 'bite-size' investments of less than $500,000.
This means that some of the transactions are small enough compared to the company's size, for them to not fall under disclosure requirements.
Dr Wong said that as the investment capital is not high, it is easy to replicate the projects fast, and to quickly break even and make profits.
AsiaMedic's largest single shareholder is a company linked to Indonesia's Salim Group.
Singapore investors have been enthusiastic about companies with businesses in Myanmar, which is seen as having rich business potential in the wake of ongoing political and economic reforms.
'Myanmar play' companies whose share prices have soared this year include property developer Yoma Strategic Holdings and Ntegrator International, a communications network specialist.
Shares in bedlinen company Aussino Group have also jumped since the middle of last month after it announced that it would start selling petrol in Myanmar.