In Singapore, a holding company is a type of business entity whose primary purpose is to own shares in other companies, which are referred to as its subsidiaries. The holding company itself typically does not engage directly in commercial or operational activities such as manufacturing, selling goods, or providing services. Instead, its role is focused on the ownership and management of its investments in these subsidiaries.

Key Characteristics of a Holding Company in Singapore:

Ownership: A holding company holds the majority of the voting stock or controlling interest in one or more other companies, enabling it to influence or control the management and operations of those companies.

Management: While the holding company may not be involved in the day-to-day operations of its subsidiaries, it often plays a significant role in strategic decision-making and overall management oversight.

Liability Protection: By segregating operations into subsidiary entities, a holding company can limit financial risk. Liabilities of the subsidiaries do not generally extend to the holding company unless specific corporate veil-piercing conditions are met.

Tax Considerations: In Singapore, holding companies can benefit from various tax incentives, such as those provided under the foreign-sourced income exemption scheme, subject to conditions being met. This can be advantageous when receiving dividends from foreign subsidiaries.

Regulatory Compliance: Holding companies in Singapore are subject to regulatory compliance similar to any other incorporated entity, including annual filing requirements with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and tax obligations with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

Uses of Holding Companies in Singapore:

  • Risk Management: By separating different business units into distinct legal entities, a holding company structure can minimise risks.
  • Financial Efficiency: Holding companies can streamline financial management and potentially reduce tax liabilities through strategic financial planning and utilisation of tax treaties.
  • Control and Structure: They allow for a streamlined approach to managing and controlling multiple subsidiaries, possibly across different geographical locations.

Setting up a holding company in Singapore involves standard incorporation procedures, similar to setting up any other type of company, including registering with ACRA, having at least one director who is ordinarily resident in Singapore, and fulfilling other statutory requirements. This structure is particularly popular among international businesses seeking to capitalise on Singapore’s favourable business environment, strategic location, and extensive network of double taxation agreements.