MNCs making a difference to M’sian corporate landscape
Kuala Lumpur

French digital payment company Worldline and global gases provider Linde contributing to cutting-edge innovation in Greater KL

By HABHAJAN SINGH

Innovation is partly the art of capturing future value today. This is one of the multiplier effects from some of the major multinational corporations (MNCs) that have set up shop in Malaysia over the years.

Take, for example, two big global names present in Malaysia. Top French digital payment company Worldline SA and global gases and engineering company the Linde Group are both contributing to cutting-edge innovation work in Malaysia in their own areas of specialisation.

Worldline has set up its Asia-Pacific (APAC) Innovation and Management Centre in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Covering the entire payment value chain, Worldline creates and operates digital platforms that handle millions of highly critical transactions between a company, its partners and its customers.

With the presence of a large number of international financial services in Greater KL, Worldline delivers a value-added experience to consumers in Malaysia and globally.

On its part, Linde had most recently installed an automated cylinder filing plant in Malaysia. Linde’s plant, the first such plant in South-East Asia, also reaffirms its position as a long-term investor in Malaysia and as a serious player in the area of industrial air and medical gases supplier.

These are just two corporations making a difference to the Malaysian corporate landscape, with innovation naturally embedded in their agenda.

KL is also home to other global corporations. You have the likes of US-headquartered Oracle Corp and Honeywell International Inc. Then, there is France’s Smart Innovative Operations centre by Air Liquide SA hubbed in Greater KL and Japan’s creative content publisher and distributor Kadokawa Corp.

“These MNCs are actively collaborating with local companies, developing value-added services for domestic and export markets, creating high-paying regional jobs and transferring skills to Malaysians,” said InvestKL CEO Datuk Zainal Amanshah.

Many of these large corporations are in touch with InvestKL, which has been mandated to attract large global MNCs such as Fortune 500 and Forbes 2000 companies to establish their regional business, innovation and talent hubs in Greater KL. The mission is making KL as the gateway for companies to grow their businesses in Asia.

On their part, Wordline and Linde are certainly creating a regional impact from their presence in Malaysia.

Worldline — Delivering Digital Solutions

The French company went into higher gear for its presence in Malaysia with the launch of its KL Innovation Centre (KLIC) in April 2016.

KLIC is set to host the visits of its APAC corporate clients, who will experience first-hand the digital retail experience solutions that Worldline has to offer.

It was quite a feat for KL to host Worldline’s first such centre outside of France. In essence, it showcases its world-class digital payment and retail technology solutions.

The company is keeping a keen eye on the growth potential in this part of the world. This was made abundantly clear by Worldline CTO Christophe Duquenne when he underlined that business growth in the APAC region was an important agenda for Worldline and its parent company, Atos SE, a global information technology services provider.

The company is part of the wider non-cash payment business that is sizzling at the moment.

Global non-cash transaction volume reached record levels of US$433 billion (RM1.7 trillion) in 2015, as per the most recently available numbers, and the figure was growing at double-digit rates annually, reported Paypers.com. In mature regions, it noted that the number dips to 6.8%, while in developing regions, it rises to 21.6%. In emerging Asia, it’s up at a huge 43.4%.

No wonder Worldline is making its moves. During the centre launch, Worldline APAC CEO Tee Kee Ming had said the company is exploring talks with a major mall in KL to pilot its solution. The solution would assist malls to enhance KL’s positioning as a top shopping destination in the world, as well as push itself one notch up as an innovative city.

At this point, Worldline had successfully deployed the digital retail solution for Adidas and Sephora. It allows customers to visit their concept stores to experience virtual shopping of all their products, even though these stores carry minimal physical inventory.

In addition, Worldline’s digital retail technology can enable its customers to offer personalised pricing based on loyalty and shopping behavioural patterns.

“To ensure a smooth execution of our mission in Greater KL, one of the components that required a re-alignment was our marketing function — essential to expanding our reach and results in the region.

“The role was centralised in the Greater KL office to support marketing and sales in the different offices across the region,” Tee told a local daily in an interview.

The Worldline APAC headquarters in KL employs more than 200 staff whose key task is to deliver merchant services solutions, mobility and e-transactional and financial processing services.

Globally, Worldline employs more than 7,300 staff. A good segment of the workforce in Malaysia is said to be handsomely paid.

Linde — Scaling Up With Innovation

Another company that has injected innovation and introduced new elements to the existing landscape is Linde.

In May 2017, Linde Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a member of the Linde Group, launched its first modular automated industrial gases cylinder filling plant in South Asia and Asean.

Located in Banting, Selangor, the plant built at a cost of RM54 million (€12 million) is described as a state-of-the art facility incorporating the latest in cylinder filling technology and innovation, safety features and environment-friendly best practices.

“Linde continues to see growth opportunities in Asia. As the market leader in Malaysia with a presence that spans 50 years, we have an established track record of continued investments and of bringing the latest technology to Malaysia,” said

Sanjiv Lamba, Linde COO for APAC and an executive of Linde AG, in a statement for the plant’s official opening.

The plant brings about innovation that Malaysia is constantly seeking from the MNCs operating in Malaysia.

Linde Malaysia MD Connell Zhang had shed some light on the technology, innovation and the inventive spirit that have been at the heart of the group for 138 years.

“Our Banting plant serves as a centre of excellence for the industrial gases industry in Malaysia, with cost competitive, advanced cylinder filling world-class technologies and innovative solutions, industry-leading safety features and environment-friendly best practices,” he said.

The modular design of the cylinder filling plant allows for expansion of capacity to meet the future needs of the market. The plant was fully commissioned in the first quarter of 2017.

The plant construction was completed on time, within budget and without an incident throughout the 390,000 construction hours, while maintaining supplies to customers, the company noted in a statement.

Linde Malaysia has been present in Malaysia since 1960. An industrial gas supplier in Malaysia, it combines local knowledge with global expertise and resources in the areas of technology, research and development, gas applications, engineering and best operating practices.

It provides total gas solutions to a variety of industries. The firm manufactures and distributes industrial, specialty and medical gases.

Linde Malaysia also provides related services like installation of gas equipment, pipelines and associated engineering services. In addition, it supplies packaged chemicals, welding and consumables products.

The company is already looking ahead. In July 2017, Linde Malaysia announced plans to invest €30 million (RM143.7 million) to expand its gas and liquid production capacities to meet growing customer demands in central Malaysia.

The firm plans to construct and commission a new gas and liquid producing air separation unit (ASU) at its site in Hicom Industrial Estate, Shah Alam.

The new ASU will be integrated into the pipeline supply network of existing plants which Linde operates in Bukit Raja and Hicom.

The investment will enable Linde to meet forecast growth in the central Malaysian region through the next decade. The expansion project is expected to be completed by end-2018.

As corporations like Worldline and Linde continue their push towards innovation and improvement in their respective businesses, KL is expected to attract more MNCs to set up shop here, taking advantage of the city’s various advantages.