Temasek says it's 'bullish' on China outlook

Updated: 2011-07-09 09:48

By Netty Ismail and Joyce Koh (China Daily)

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SINGAPORE - Temasek Holdings Pte, Singapore's state-owned investment company, is "bullish" on China and is seeking deals even after selling some of its stakes in two of the nation's banks this week for $3.6 billion.

"China is our largest investment destination," said Nagi Hamiyeh, Temasek's managing director of investment, in Singapore on Thursday. "We are still looking for opportunities in China and we are very comfortable with our position there at this time."

Temasek, which sold shares in China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) and Bank of China Ltd (BOC) this week, said on Wednesday that the sale was part of its "portfolio rebalancing". The world's fastest-growing major economy accounts for more than 20 percent of Temasek's overall portfolio and it remains "heavily invested" in the two banks, Hamiyeh said.

"We have faith in the policies of the Chinese government in the long-term and we remain bullish on China," Hamiyeh said. With "China, like with any growing economy, there will always be risks".

Temasek still holds about $14 billion of CCB's shares and about $3 billion of BOC's stock after trimming its stakes in the lenders, he said.

The Singapore investment firm spent more than S$3 billion ($2.4 billion) in the rights offerings of CCB and BOC during the period, according to its annual report released on Thursday. The value of Temasek's assets climbed 3.8 percent to a record S$193 billion in the year ended March 31, it said in the report.

"To reserve funds to move forward, to take advantage of market opportunities, particularly in China as and when they come, particularly with the more interesting IPOs pertaining to the consumer sector that are likely to rear their heads in the second half, would be a right strategy," said Gabriel Yap, executive chairman of GCP Global Pte in Singapore. "What it's trying to position itself (for) is to wait for value to present itself."

About 43 percent of Temasek's direct investments announced in the 12 months ended in March were in China, according to estimates by Monitor Group, which collects data on sovereign wealth funds.

Temasek also spent S$90 million in Asian Citrus Holdings Ltd, the largest orange-plantation owner and operator in China, and invested in Beijing-based insurer New China Life Co Ltd. It also spent S$50 million on the Chinese video website and S$50 million on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, according to its annual report.

This fiscal year, it has invested in Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co, China's second-largest drug distributor.

The sovereign wealth investor will "maintain a liquid stance" with the flexibility to adjust the investments in its portfolio at any time, Hamiyeh said. The firm will continue to focus on fast-growing economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa, as well as industries such as energy, resources and technology, he said.

Bloomberg News



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