Strategy split behind Temasek exit-Goodyear

September 25, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Michael Flaherty & Joseph Chaney

Reuters

Former BHP Billiton CEO Charles “Chip” Goodyear confirmed that a divergence in strategy was behind his shock departure from Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings two months ago.

“Differences of strategic vision is the best way to put it,” Goodyear answered calmly, in response to a question in front of an audience of 300 investors at a conference in Hong Kong.

The comments came in Goodyear’s first public appearance since July when he walked out of the job to become the chief executive of Temasek less than six months after accepting the post.

He answered three or four questions from the audience.

Goodyear, appearing relaxed and comfortable on stage at the CLSA-organised conference, said the Temasek news release at the time summed up his exit.

Temasek, which manages $122 billion in assets including Standard Chartered and DBS Group, said in July that Goodyear would not take over as CEO in October as planned due to differences over strategy.

Goodyear, who was tapped in February for the Temasek job, was widely expected to trim its financial holdings and shift focus into commodities and energy, analysts had said.

The impeccably groomed and amiable American was to have been the first foreign chief executive of the high profile Singapore fund.

Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore’s prime minister, decided to stay on as Temasek’s CEO since Goodyear’s departure.

Temasek lost an estimated $4 billion from selling stakes in Bank of America and Barclays earlier this year ahead of a global market rally.

Goodyear descends from a U.S. lumber baron and hails from the halls of Ivy League universities and Wall Street, but is best known for his reign at the Australian mining giant BHP.

Goodyear joined then debt-ridden BHP in 1999 as chief financial officer, and was instrumental in growing the company into the world’s top miner, as a result of a merger with South Africa’s Billiton, with a market value bigger than the GDP of some countries it operated in.

http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSSIN52128920090924