November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

German firms to expand business process operations in Philippines, DTI says

THREE German companies are expanding their information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) operations in the Philippines in order to cater to the Asia-Pacific markets, the Trade secretary said.

“We also met several companies and some mentioned plans to locate and or expand in the Philippines,” Ramon M. Lopez, secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), told reporters in an online message.

He was referring to his recent trip to Nuremberg, during which he said German-based companies Knauf Gips KG and BMW AG had expressed plans to do more business in the Philippines.

In his update, Mr. Lopez identified the expanding entities as Fresenius Medical Care Philippines, Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Philippines, Inc. and Merck, Inc.

“Fresenius Medical Care, which operates 21 dialysis clinics all over the country, has opened its shared service center in Alabang in 2015, servicing the accounting and finance operations of 30 countries,” Mr. Lopez said.

He said from a staff complement of 77 in 2017, Fresenius Medical Care was planning to increase the number of employees to 130 in three years. He added that “in the short term,” the company also plans to open its IT-BPM operations in the Philippines.

“In terms of its medical care operations, they see the need to further expand their operations in the country to 25 clinics by end 2017 and up to 37 by 2020,” he said.

Mr. Lopez said the choice for Manila as the Asia-Pacific IT-BPM location for Boehringer Ingelheim “was mainly because of the country’s good university system and access to talented work force.”

He described Boehringer Ingelheim as “the third-largest multinational in the country,” having been present locally for 50 years.

He said the company currently has service locations in Ingelheim, which serves the EU market, and in Buenos Aires, for the South American market.

“The Manila operations will start in October 2017, with 200 employees, initially servicing the Australia and New Zealand markets. The future plan is to have the Philippines as a global center for Boehringer Ingelheim shared services,” he said.

Merck is also planning to expand its operations in the country in the next three to four years, Mr. Lopez said, citing the move as an expansion in “services and scope, to employ 800 people by 2020.”

“Merck opened its IT-BPM operations in the Philippines in July 2016 with an initial 125 employees, offering procurement, accounting, HR and IT services for its North America and Asia-Pacific markets,” he said.

Mr. Lopez said BMW has tapped the communications center of power tools maker Robert Bosch, Inc. for inquiries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He previously said BMW would be sourcing more automotive electric parts from the Philippines as part of its strategy in ASEAN. He had said BMW imports €16 million worth of auto parts, specifically components and electric control units, from the Philippines annually and intends to increase that value in the coming years.

While he was still in Germany, Mr. Lopez said Knauf was planning to invest $50 million to set up a new plant in Batangas, a move that will serve as “the beginning of its local production of plasterboards for domestic and export markets.” -- Victor V. Saulon