Temasek looks at listing some of its holdings

August 26, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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John Burton
Financial Times

Temasek Holdings, the Singapore state investment company, said on Tuesday it would be prepared to list some of its biggest holdings – including port operator PSA and Singapore Power – if future conditions warrant such a move.

“There is a right time for them to be listed,” said Ho Ching, the Temasek chief executive, as she unveiled a revised charter outlining the group’s future goals and relationship to the Singapore government.

The new charter replaces one that was issued in 2002 when Ms Ho took over at Temasek. Then, there was a domestic debate over whether the Singapore government should own local companies, which critics said hampered the growth of entrepreneurial businesses, said S Dhanabalan, Temasek chairman.

Since the original charter, the domestic companies Temasek has invested in have expanded abroad and the emphasis has moved towards making them international competitors. Mr Dhanabalan said Temasek was likely to hold on to its stakes in companies such as Singapore Telecommunications and Singapore Airlines as long as they have growth potential.

Ms Ho suggested that Temasek had no immediate plans for further disposals of corporate assets after it had completed the sale in the past year of Singapore’s three power plants as part of a liberalisation of the local electricity market.

In addition to possible listings for PSA and SingPower, Ms Ho said Temasek might consider listing Fullerton Fund Management, an asset manager, and Fullerton Financial Holdings, which owns stakes in a number of Asian banks including China Construction Bank and Bank of China.

Temasek would also look at the possibility of packaging its private equity investments and listing them in Singapore in the next three to five years for retail investors. This follows a similar exercise in 2007 with the London listing of Astrea, a fund representing Temasek’s private equity investments, for institutional investors. Ms Ho said Astrea had served as test model for the listing of similar funds in Singapore.

Ms Ho said recently that Temasek was for the first time seeking outside capital from institutions and the public for joint investment projects such as infrastructure.

Temasek is also considering expanding investments in energy and natural resources, although Ms Ho downplayed suggestions that this would form a big part of its portfolio. Contrasting Temasek’s approach to that of China in terms of resources assets, Ms Ho said that Singapore was a much smaller country, “so we have a different perspective”.

In spite of suffering recent losses in its investments in Merrill Lynch and Barclays, Ms Ho said Temasek was open to new investments in western financial groups “if the opportunity comes and it looks attractive”.

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