Bertelsmann unit invests S$20m in S'pore

Bertelsmann Arvato AG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of German-based Bertelsmann AG, is investing S$20 million in setting up its optical disc production and digital content services facility here.

SINGAPORE--Bertelsmann Arvato AG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of German-based Bertelsmann AG, is investing S$20 million in setting up its optical disc production and digital content services facility here.

Bertelsmann Arvato specializes in content preparation, manufacturing, packaging and related logistics services for software houses, music labels, movie studios and other digital content publishers.

The new 5,000 square meter facility, called Sonopress Singapore Pte Ltd, will manage high-volume, optical disc manufacturing, Sonopress said in a statement today.

The building, located at Woodlands, in northern Singapore, also houses the company's 80 employees. About 60 of them are in production and the rest in sales and marketing, and administration.

According to Sonopress Singapore sales and marketing manager Thomas Chua, up to 80 percent of the S$20 million investment is for the purchase of equipment, with the remainder for hiring staff and training specialized technicians.

Chua noted that Sonopress' Singapore operation will target customers in the music, publishing, electronic and game sectors. He said it would also undertake projects involving supply chain management (providing warehousing and distribution services to customers), digital rights management (helping customers develop online content delivery) and content distribution services (including content from movies, music, computer software and games).

He was speaking at the sidelines of the opening of the Sonopress Singapore office today.

When asked why the company was investing in Singapore at a time of economic uncertainty worldwide, Sonopress Asia Pacific CEO and managing director Wesley Lau said: "No one can be certain when the economy will turn around. But we know it will. Instead of waiting for the economy to bounce back, it is the right time for us to gather our resources and get prepared for what is ahead of us."

Meanwhile, Chua said Sonopress hopes to double its optical discs (CDs and DVDs) capacity in Singapore from 40 million a year by end-2001 to 80 million by end-2002.

Lau told reporters today that the opening of its Singapore office is part of the company's strategy to expand into the Asia Pacific region. "With customers like BMG, Disney, HP, IBM/Lotus and Microsoft having operations in Singapore, we felt that it was logical to establish our presence here to meet (their) demands," he said.

Sonopress currently has offices in India, Taiwan, Japan, Shanghai and Hong Kong, where it also has a manufacturing plant. Chua could not provide the total headcount of Sonopress Asia Pacific, which includes the Singapore operation.

On future investments, Lau said Sonopress would invest a further US$20 million in the next two to three years in Singapore. He did not elaborate.

Chua said Sonopress hopes to increase revenues in the region (including Japan) from US$30 million by year end to about US$150 million in four to five years' time. It also hopes to increase its market share in the region from 2.2 percent this year to 10 percent in five years.

On expansion plans, Lau said the company plans to open sales and fulfillment centers in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries. He added that it expects to double headcount to 160 in Singapore by next year. He did not provide further details.