Press Releases

Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Announces Research Findings into ASEAN Family Business Succession Plans

  • 71% of family businesses in Southeast Asia say succession plans make winning investment easier.
  • Singapore has the lowest share of companies in the region with formal succession plans.
  • Singaporean family-owned businesses also lag their peers in using formal structures and wealth management solutions to manage succession issues and ensure wealth preservation.
  • More than half of all Southeast Asian business families use informal gatherings for family governance.

SINGAPORE, 27 January 2015 – A new report commissioned by Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) shows that family businesses in Singapore are among the least prepared in Southeast Asia for what will happen after the current business leader retires or steps down.
The research report entitled Building Legacies: Family Business Succession in Southeast Asia, by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), finds only 58% of Singapore business families have prepared for succession while just 35% have established formal wealth management structures such as private foundations and 41% have trusts to manage inter-generational wealth transfer.
In contrast, Indonesian family-run businesses reported the largest share of companies with formal succession plans. The survey found that 78% of family businesses in Indonesia have formal succession plans, with 57% saying they have established private foundations and 53% saying they have trusts to manage wealth and succession.
Kevin Plumberg, the editor of the report, said: “Our research shows somewhat surprisingly that business families in Singapore, a financial hub for the region, lag in their use of foundations, trusts and external advisors when it comes to succession issues, whereas family-run companies in Indonesia are leaders. It is representative of the region’s diversity as well as its uneven progress in addressing questions about succession.”
The report, based on a survey of 250 majority family-owned businesses from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines also found that customers and investors have more trust in a family-owned business with a succession plan than those without, with 71% of regional family business leaders acknowledging it is easier to attract investment with a succession plan in place.
Saiful Bahari Baharom, Chief Executive Officer of Labuan IBFC, said: “Family-run businesses account for more than 60% of all publicly-listed companies in ASEAN, making them an essential part of the region’s growth. Considering the significance of these businesses to the region, this research has shown that there is an over reliance on informal structures such as family councils to manage succession issues, which are neither legally binding nor necessarily permanent structures.”
The full report is available online:

Press enquiries
Shamillia S. Unsworth, director, communications, Labuan IBFC
+60 3 2773 8977
Kevin Plumberg, senior editor, The Economist Intelligence Unit
+65 6428 2671
Notes to editors
The report is based on a survey and interviews conducted in July-August 2014. Survey respondents included 250 majority family-owned businesses from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. All respondents have senior managerial responsibility at a minimum, and 50% of respondents are board members or C-level executives. 62% of survey respondents are from companies with global annual revenues of US$150m or less, and 11% make US$1bn or more.
About Labuan International Business and Financial Centre
Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) has a wide range of business and investment structures facilitating cross-border transactions, business dealings and wealth management needs.
As Asia Pacific’s premier midshore international business and financial centre, Labuan IBFC provides a wide spectrum of financial products and services for corporations and individuals, both in the conventional and Islamic space. The jurisdiction has moved beyond banking, capital markets, leasing and insurance to also include protected cell companies, partnerships, trusts, foundations and an international shipping registry, among others.
We work closely with intermediaries such as tax advisors, accountants, legal firms, trust companies, registration agents and investment banks representing businesses looking to tap into Asia’s economic growth facilitated by a robust yet business-friendly legal framework.
For more information, please visit
About The Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist newspaper. The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. More information can be found at or
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