Scrapping of Temasek succession “unfortunate”: Ho Ching

July 29, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFP

The chief executive of Singapore’s state investment firm said Wednesday that scrapping a plan to install its first foreign head was “unfortunate” but a succession review was going ahead.

Temasek CEO Ho Ching’s comments come after the firm last week said it was rescinding the appointment of US businessman Charles “Chip” Goodyear as her replacement due to differences over strategy.

Goodyear would have taken over from Ho, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on October 1 and inherited a firm that has been badly hit by the effects of the global financial crisis.

The former head of resources giant BHP Billiton would have been the first foreigner to run the once-secretive sovereign wealth fund and his appointment just a few months ago was hailed as part of an effort to transform Temasek into a truly global enterprise.

“It is unfortunate that both the board and Chip recently came to the amicable and mutual conclusion that it was best not to proceed with the CEO transition,” Ho told a forum organised by the Institute of Policy Studies think tank.

“This does not mean however that we should stop this discipline of succession review. We will continue to do so regardless of who takes the helm as CEO at Temasek,” she said.

Ho also said that Temasek will invest 70 percent of its resources in Asia, including Singapore, with 20 percent earmarked for investments in industrialised countries.

The rest will be invested in markets in Latin America and Africa, she added.

“We remain very comfortable with Asia,” said Ho, who will stay on as CEO of Temasek, which manages a global portfolio invested in a wide range of sectors from airlines to energy, resources and consumer products.

“Growth will not be a straight line trajectory. We can expect bumps along the way, but the longer term potential remains strong. As Asia continues on its development curve, it will also de-risk.”

As of November 30, 2008, the Temasek portfolio was valued at 84 billion US dollars, down more than 37 percent from 134 billion dollars on March 31 that year due to the impact of the global crisis.

Ho said however that Temasek remains a long-term investor.

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