Singapore’s GIC revamps management structure

17 Jul 07

The Government of Singapore Investment Corp. (GIC), responsible for investing over $100 billion of the country’s foreign exchange reserves, said late on Monday that it had revamped its management structure.

GIC, set up in 1981 to manage the bulk of Singapore’s foreign exchange reserves, said the new appointments would facilitate management succession, improve risk management and boost coordination across asset classes.

Group Managing Director Lee Ek Tieng would also take on the post of chairman of the board of GIC Asset Management, the division which is responsible for the group’s investments in equities, fixed income, foreign currencies and other public-market products.

The new post of managing director and group chief investment officer – to be filled by Ng Kok Song, a 21-year veteran of the company – would have oversight of the investment activities of GIC’s three operating units which focus on real estate, private equity, and public markets respectively.

Quah Wee Ghee will assume leadership of GIC’s public markets division from Ng in the newly created post of president of GIC Asset Management.

The director of GIC’s risk and performance management unit, Sung Cheng Chih, would act as chief risk officer, to head up its expanded risk department.

“The overall focus of these changes seems to be on risk,” said Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin.

“In the light of what happened with Temasek’s investment in Thailand’s Shin Corp., it could be a recognition that a more robust assessment of risk is required when it comes to investments by government-linked firms,”

Singapore state investment agency Temasek Holdings’ [TEM.UL] $1.9 billion purchase of a controlling stake in Thai telecoms firm Shin Corp. from the family of then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last January, sparked off a political crisis in Thailand that led to Thaksin’s ouster.

Last June, GIC chairman and Singapore founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said GIC achieved an average return of 9.5 percent annually over the last 25 years in US dollar terms.

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