Singapore’s Temasek sees slower investments after record portfolio

Temasek Holdings. (FMT pic)

SINGAPORE: Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings’ portfolio value hit a record high last year on the strong performance in local firms and Chinese banks, but it struck a cautious note by saying it was looking to temper the pace of its investments.

Under CEO Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Temasek has become a global investor, ploughing billions of dollars into tech startups and emerging markets. Its key holdings include DBS Group Holdings China Construction Bank and Standard Chartered PLC.

For the year ended March 2018, Temasek’s portfolio value hit S$308 billion ($227 billion), an all-time high and 12% more than a year ago. It saw S$29 billion in new investments last year, versus S$16 billion in divestments.

Temasek, the top investor in about a third of companies in Singapore’s Straits Times index, is looking to temper its investment pace in the year ahead but is open to investment opportunities, including counter-cyclical ones, company executives said at an annual news conference on Tuesday.

“We do have a more cautious outlook right now compared to what we had in the past,” said Rohit Sipahimalani, Temasek’s joint head of portfolio strategy and risk group.

Executives said the investment firm was comfortable with its holdings in Chinese banks. At the same time, it is stepping up investments in technology start-ups.

Last month, Temasek and GIC Pte Ltd, Singapore’s bigger state fund, featured among main investors in a record-setting $14 billion fundraising by China’s Ant Financial Services Group.

The increase in Temasek’s portfolio in the year ended March, versus a nearly 14% rise a year ago, was aided by a 42% surge in DBS shares over the period.

It also benefited from 29% and more than 32% gains, respectively, in shares of China Construction Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd.

MSCI’s Asia shares ex-Japan index advanced 18% in the year to March, while Singapore’s main index rose 8%.