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Saeed Azhar & Joe Rauch
Singapore state investor Temasek beefed up its top management team by hiring Greg Curl, who was once seen as a CEO candidate for Bank of America.
Curl, 62, who worked as BofA’s chief risk officer, was named as president to oversee the financial services sector that accounted for 37 percent of Temasek’s $134 billion portfolio as of March.
He will also be responsible for strategic engagements in the Americas.
Temasek owns significant stakes in Standard Chartered and Singapore’s DBS as well as smaller stakes in Chinese lenders such as China Construction Bank.
Curl, once considered a successor to BofA’s former chief executive Ken Lewis, will join with the same rank as Simon Israel who was also named president on Thursday.
“He was, in effect, Ken Lewis’ number 2 man during his last few years at the company,” said Dick Bove, bank analyst with Rochdale Securities LLC. “His background suggests he’s an extraordinarily effective manager.”
Bove said he would not be surprised if Curl focuses on turning around some of the poorly performing companies in Temasek’s portfolio.
With Curl, Temasek will have three presidents including Singapore Exchange CEO Hsieh Fu Hua and they will all rank just below CEO Ho Ching.
Israel and Hsieh are, however, also executive directors at Temasek.
Ho, the wife of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said the new hires will add “tremendous depth” to its leadership.
She has stayed on as chief executive after strategic differences led to the premature departure of CEO-designate and former BHP Billiton head Chip Goodyear in July 2009.
Last month, Temasek said Ho would not be stepping down anytime soon and there was no active search for a successor.
Temasek said Curl, who retired from Bank of America in March, brings with him 34 years of banking and international mergers and acquisition experience. Curl will start work on Sept 1.
Temasek, which exited from its investments in Bank of America and Barclays at a huge loss in 2009, has been largely focusing on Asia and emerging markets such as small investments in Latin America.
Curl helped engineer Bank of America’s investments in China Construction Bank, the country’s no. 2 lender, in 2005 and also served on the board of the Chinese bank, Temasek said.
He played a key role as one of the bank’s lead negotiators with the U.S. government when it repaid $45 billion in bailout aid in Dec. 2009.
Curl served as the bank’s chief risk officer from July 2009 through March 2010. Prior to that, he was director of corporate planning and strategy from 1998-2009.