SINGAPORE (Jan 15): Phua Chian Kin, CEO of TEE International, credits US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson for inspiring him to widen his company’s recurring income base. Phua met the chairman of Las Vegas Sands a decade ago, when TEE International was in the midst of constructing parts of Marina Bay Sands. The way Phua tells it, Adelson said to him: “CK! Thanks for helping me finish this project. Now, with all the people coming to tarik the jackpots, I can sleep better at night!”

Since then, TEE International has been acquiring stakes in infrastructure projects. Like an integrated resort, these require significant upfront investment and may involve long gestation periods, but can generate steady revenues without too much subsequent effort. For example, TEE International invested in a Philippines power plant in 2014, which could start generating revenue in the second half of this year. “It will be like a faulty flowing tap,” says Phua, referring to the revenue that is to come. “You want to turn it off, also cannot.”

Most recently, on Dec 29, 2017, TEE International completed its acquisition of a stake in a waste management company called Chiang Kiong Environmental, which Phua says will literally make money while he sleeps at night: Its fleet of 60 trucks rumbles around Singapore in the wee hours of the morning, collecting rubbish from commercial buildings and shopping centres.

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