Four Singapore firms have made it to the Forbes Asia's "Best Under A Billion" list.
Miclyn Express Offshore, which provides service vessels for the oil & gas industry, was the only firm to retain its place in the list from last year.
While it is based in Singapore, it is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. It has the highest net income and market value among the four firms, at $57 million and $529 million respectively.
Joining it on the list this year are Kreuz Holdings, a fellow player in the oil and gas industry that provides integrated subsea services, as well as Lian Beng Group, a residential, commercial and industrial construction company, and Sino Grandness Food Industry Group, which produces canned vegetables and fruits.
The list features 200 small and midsized companies with less than US$1 billion in sales in Asia Pacific. They are chosen from a pool of 900 candidates based on sales growth, earnings growth and return on equity in the past 12 months and over three years.
These 200 firms, which come from 15 countries, experienced an average growth of 48 per cent in combined sales with US$47 billion generated in revenue collectively last year, and employed 370,000 people.
The number of Singapore firms on the list has shown a downward trend over the years, falling from 20 to 14 from 2007 to 2008, and down to five in 2009. While there was an increase to eight firms in 2010, only six made the list last year, and subsequently four firms this year.
Conversely, the growth of listed entities in China has been the fastest in the world in the years since the financial crisis, according to Forbes. Firms from China and Hong Kong dominated the list, comprising 72 of the 200 firms, an increase from 65 last year with 20 retaining their spots. India and Taiwan have the second most number of companies on the list, at 23 each.
Tim Ferguson, editor of Forbes Asia, said the list demonstrates "why small and medium-sized companies continue to be the linchpin of Asia's economic growth", adding that "their diversity and dynamism bode well for the region particularly at a time when the global economy is faltering".
Some 23 firms were from the technology hardware and equipment sector, followed by 21 in software and services. Twenty construction companies made the list this year, almost twice that of the 11 firms last year. Similarly, the number of companies in the food, drink and tobacco industry nearly doubled from 10 to 19.
This article was first published in The Business Times.