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Temasek looks to invest in European firms

June 1, 2012

SINGAPORE:  Singapore investment giant Temasek Holdings has said it is looking to invest in European firms owing to an “abundance of opportunities” as the region suffers an economic crisis, a report said Friday.

European firms with good operations and strong businesses outside of the region were being considered, Temasek’s head of strategy Chia Song Hwee said in remarks carried by the Straits Times daily.

“In the current market environment, as you know, there are market imbalances… So there is an abundance of opportunities for us to tap,” Chia — who joined Temasek in October 2011 — was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

“However, the most difficult part of picking up opportunities in such an environment is what is the right time, what is the right valuation for the risk-reward proposition,” he added.

Chia did not mention any specific European companies or industries Temasek was casting its eye over.

The report comes as Europe is caught in the grips of a crippling debt crisis that has seen the euro tumble, unemployment soar, trade tumble and public deficits widen.

Analysts are also worried that Greece could end up leaving the eurozone while a banking crisis in Spain has stoked talk that Madrid might have to seek an international bailout.

Acquisitions in Europe would mark a departure from Temasek’s recent investment activities, which focused on top banks in China and other other emerging economies.

Its European foray also flies in the face of market sentiment on the region, said Justin Harper, market strategist for IG Markets Singapore.

“They seem to be contradicting what most people are doing, a lot of people are saying get out (of Europe), if they have not done that already they’ve got more problems to come,” he told AFP.

“That raises eyebrows from the point of view that they’re going against the stream of common thinking.”

But Harper said Temasek was likely to be engaging in “a bargain-hunting exercise” by snapping up cut-price shares in big European institutions who had been hit by the region’s economic woes.

Temasek Holdings is one of two Singapore state investment firms and had a portfolio worth Sg$193 billion ($149.53 billion) for the financial year ended March 31, 2011.



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