SCANDINAVIA'S largest ship management company Barber International is to move its headquarters to the Far East, according to Lloyd's List. The company, a subsidiary of Norwegian shipowner Wilh Wilherlmsen, will be controlled from Kuala Lumpur. Barber's decision to relocate the headquarters from Oslo to Malaysia is intended to give a signal to clients of the importance it attaches to the fast-growing Asian market. The company, with some 170 ships of 13 million deadweight tonne under management, is one of the world's top six ship management companies. About 25 per cent of Barber's clients are currently based in the Far East. The region is also a major recruitment centre for labour with about 80 per cent of the company's crews hailing from the Philippines. Top Barber executives, including company president Svein Sorlie and vice-president Per Steinar Upsaker, will move to Kuala Lumpur by mid-1994. Other functions, such as information technology, finance and business development and marketing, are also to be located there. Barber, which employs some 5,000 Far Eastern seamen, looked at a large number of possible domiciles in the Far East for its headquarters, including Hong Kong and Singapore, before opting for Kuala Lumpur. The company's senior vice-president Petter Larsen said Kuala Lumpur was chosen because of its favourable costs and the fact that the company already had a crew planning operation in Malaysia. The decision to relocate the company headquarters will not affect daily technical management functions at present carried out from Oslo. Mr Larsen said Barber already employed about a dozen people in Kuala Lumpur which was significantly less expensive than Hong Kong. ''It has been a very difficult decision, but we felt that Kuala Lumpur offered a good combination of moderate costs and current and future political stability,'' noted Mr Larsen. The Kuala Lumpur location could even give a stronger focus to Barber's quality initiatives, he added. Barber has been raising quality standards in ship management, and earlier this year it terminated contracts in respect of up to 15 ships because owners were not prepared to invest in adequate maintenance.