Surbana's chief executive officer Pang Yee Ean said at the official launch at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon yesterday that the move is testament to the group's long-term commitment to do business in Myanmar.
"Our physical presence will be complemented by a deliberate effort to build local capabilities in the long run," he said. The group's office will house local full-time Myanmar professional and support staff, overseen by Surbana's deputy general manager for Myanmar operations, Gareth Wong.
Surbana's Singapore team has been supporting projects in Myanmar and this will continue, Mr Pang said. The company will also invest in talent in Myanmar, and build a strong local team to provide end-to-end building and engineering solutions.
"We are planning to hire up to nine local staff to support immediate projects in the pipeline, and have plans for further growth and expansion of our office in the next few years," said Mr Pang. "The staff will comprise professionals like engineers, architects, project managers, accountants, business development managers as well as technical support staff."
Speaking at yesterday's official launch, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said: "The opening of Myanmar's economy presents much opportunity for economic growth and investment." He added that the opportunities exist across many sectors including in manufacturing and industrial development, ports and logistics, urban development, hospitality, oil and gas, and consumer sectors.
Last year, Singapore's trade with Myanmar increased 71 per cent year-on-year to reach $3 billion; the Republic was also Myanmar's third-largest trading partner last year. In terms of investments, as of January 2014, Singapore was Myanmar's fourth-largest investor, with cumulative approved investments amounting to about US$3.8 billion. Mr Lee said that Singapore is also the largest investor in Myanmar's hotel and tourism industry, with 14 Singapore companies investing approximately S$1 billion in the sector.
Surbana has several projects in Myanmar, with the two largest being a residential development in the Dagon Seikkan Township with the Ministry of Construction, and the Yangon Ecological Aquarium with the Myanmar Aquarium Company. In the township project, Surbana is providing masterplanning and architectural consultancy services as well as civil and structural, and mechanical and electrical, services for a 220-acre site that will yield 19,000 housing units.
In the aquarium project, Surbana is the lead project manager and design consultant of the 20,000 square metre facility, poised to be one of Yangon's major tourist attractions. Surbana is managing the project from its design development to construction and commissioning of the completed facilities.
As a further sign of its commitment to develop local capabilities, Surbana yesterday also announced the launch of a $10,000 scholarship fund for locals looking to pursue an engineering and architecture career. Details of the scholarship, which will be available to students in the local universities, will be announced soon, Mr Pang said.