Setting Up a Holding Company in Singapore

Setting Up a Holding Company in Singapore


Singapore, renowned for its robust economy and strategic location, has become a magnet for investors worldwide. Its favorable tax regime, coupled with a stable legal and business environment, makes it an attractive destination for establishing holding companies. This article delves into the intricacies of setting up a holding company in Singapore, highlighting the tax incentives, benefits, and essential steps in the process. Furthermore, we will explore how integrating audit services can enhance the efficiency and compliance of holding companies in this jurisdiction.


Understanding of Setting up a Holding Company in Singapore


A holding company is a type of parent entity that possesses controlling stakes in other companies or assets. What assets might a holding company possess?

  • Corporations, including both public and private entities
  • Real estate holdings
  • Shares of stock
  • Patents and trademarks
  • Intellectual property
  • Financial investments such as cash, bonds, and other securities
  • Among others.

Distinguishing Between Holding and Operating Companies


It’s crucial to understand that a holding company is not the same as an operating company. The primary distinction lies in their roles and responsibilities.

The management team of a holding company does not engage in the everyday operations of its subsidiaries. Instead, their duties revolve around the broader oversight of these entities, including strategic direction, appointment of key executives, and major corporate decisions such as dividend policies and mergers and acquisitions.

In contrast, each subsidiary operates independently, with its own management team responsible for daily activities.

Given this dynamic, it’s clear why:

  • A holding company is often referred to as a parent or umbrella company.
  • A subsidiary is regarded as an operating company.

It’s worth noting that a holding company registered in Singapore is recognized as a Singaporean entity. Its subsidiaries may conduct business both within Singapore and internationally.

Starting a Holding Company in Singapore
Starting a Holding Company in Singapore

Tax Incentives and Benefits for Holding Company in Singapore


Low Corporate Income Tax

Singapore’s corporate income tax rate stands at a competitive 17% for private limited companies, including holding companies. This rate is among the lowest globally, making Singapore an appealing location for company registration.

No Capital Gains Tax

In Singapore, capital gains from the sale of assets such as property, shares, and financial instruments are not taxed. This tax exemption applies unless the gains are derived from trading activities, emphasizing the country’s investor-friendly tax policy.

Dividend Tax Policies

Dividends received by shareholders from Singapore companies are not taxed, providing a clear advantage for investors. Furthermore, dividends paid to non-residents do not incur withholding taxes, enhancing Singapore’s attractiveness as an investment hub.

Double Tax Treaties and No CFC Rules

Singapore’s extensive network of over 90 double taxation agreements minimizes the tax burden on companies operating across borders. Additionally, the absence of Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules eliminates the risk of profits being taxed in both the host country and Singapore.

Flexible Corporate Structures

Singapore allows various business entities, including private limited companies, limited partnerships, and trusts. The choice of structure depends on factors such as risk appetite, tax considerations, and fundraising needs, making it crucial to consult with a corporate service provider (CSP) for tailored advice.


Requirements for Registering a Holding Company


The process of registering a holding company in Singapore is straightforward but requires adherence to specific requirements:

  • Foreign Ownership: 100% foreign ownership is permitted, making it accessible for international investors.
  • Initial Capital: A minimum initial paid-up capital of S$1 is needed, signifying low barriers to entry.
  • Local Director: At least one local director, who is a permanent resident or citizen of Singapore, is mandatory.
  • Company Secretary: The appointment of a resident company secretary is essential for compliance.
  • Physical Address: A local registered address (not a PO Box) is required for official correspondence.

Registering Your Holding Company In Singapore


The registration process of starting a holding company in Singapore involves selecting a holding company name, deciding on the holding company structure, and submitting the necessary documents to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Working with a CSP like AG Singapore can streamline this process, from name approval to the final company registration, which can be completed in about a week.


Setting Up a Holding Company in Singapore
Setting Up a Holding Company in Singapore

The Strategic Advantages of Starting a Singapore Holding Company


Risk Reduction and Financing

A holding company structure can significantly reduce business risks and improve financing terms. By isolating liabilities and leveraging the collective strength of subsidiaries, holding companies can secure better financing deals and protect assets effectively.

Asset Protection and Transactions

Singapore holding companies offer a secure way to manage and protect key business assets. Through ringfencing, these entities can safeguard intellectual property and other critical assets, even in challenging times.

Intergenerational Asset Transfers

Holding companies facilitate seamless succession planning and intergenerational transfers of assets. Singapore’s regulatory environment supports trust structures and provides clear governance for family wealth management.

Avoidance of Double Taxation

Singapore’s tax residency criteria and its network of double taxation agreements protect holding companies from being taxed twice on the same income, offering significant financial benefits.


Challenges and Considerations


While the benefits are substantial, potential investors should also be aware of the challenges, including management complexities and potential conflicts of interest between subsidiaries and the parent company. Transparency and strategic alignment are crucial for overcoming these obstacles.




Establishing a holding company in Singapore offers unparalleled advantages, from tax incentives to asset protection and risk management. However, the success of such a venture depends on careful planning, compliance with regulatory requirements, and strategic decision-making. Incorporating audit services into your business strategy can ensure adherence to Singapore’s stringent financial regulations, enhancing your company’s reputation and operational efficiency. As you embark on this journey, consider partnering with an experienced accounting firm in Singapore to navigate the complexities of setting up and managing your Singapore holding company effectively.

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