Big business targets Asian agriculture

Asia is becoming a major target for corporate agri-business. Last week, Singapore hosted the Agriculture Investment Summit Asia 2012 on Tuesday and Wednesday, with corporations seeking investment opportunities in the region.

Caudex Asia is a Singapore-based private equity firm that invests in food and agriculture companies in Asia. On the sideline of the Agriculture Investment Summit Asia 2012, its managing partner Victor Lean told CCTV that there are a lot of investment opportunities in this region.

Victor Lean, Managing Partner, Caudex Asia Said, "China obviously is a very big story. There is also India. The markets we like a lot are Indonesia, Indo-China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka. There are considered more frontier countries, but these countries also have beautiful demographics. So we are talking about half of the populations below the age of 35, there are many young families, the demand for fruits and vegetables, the demand for meat products, the demand for diary is increasing dramatically, because people are getting richer."

According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia is predicted to add two and a half billion people to the world's middle classes in the next 20 years. The demand for food products is growing at 20 to 30 per cent a year.

Martin Lemoine, Investment Specialist, Asian Development Bank said, "I think Asia is a great market for agri business and the reason for that is that there is huge demand for food products. We see three main drivers of growth in that market. First of all, the growing population. Asia is still a very young population and growing very fast. Number two, the rising income and the rising middle class through urbanization, which means people are richer and they can buy more food products, more branded food products. And number three, there's a change in diet."

Although the growth is strong, the risks are high when investing in Asia. CMIA Capital Partners is another private equity firm that focuses on the Chinese market. They think apart from the conventional risks, china is a difficult market to handle due to the lack of good management.

Yap Kian Woon, Partner, Cmia Capital Partners said, "The biggest headache we have is to find management, experienced management, because there are a lot of issues that came out whether it's muddy water or any sort of fault issue, a lot of them is just bad practices and I think a lot of them have got to do with maturity. We hope that as we work with our investee, also as the partners with the larger businesses, multi-nationals, they will learn and pick up and be more mature in their style, in their management style, in corporate governance and then some of these businesses will be quite well-managed."

Source: CNTV

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