PM Lee opens Temasek office in London

Temasek has set up a European office in London that is poised to help the Singapore investment company with its forays into the continent and beyond, to Middle East and Africa. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (third from right), who opened the of
Temasek has set up a European office in London that is poised to help the Singapore investment company with its forays into the continent and beyond, to Middle East and Africa. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (third from right), who opened the office on Friday before an audience of investment bankers and corporate chieftains, said the new base reflects Temasek's confidence in European opportunities, and Africa's long term potential. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

Temasek has set up a European office in London that is poised to help the Singapore investment company with its forays into the continent and beyond, to Middle East and Africa.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who opened the office on Friday before an audience of investment bankers and corporate chieftains, said the new base reflects Temasek's confidence in European opportunities, and Africa's long term potential.

"Temasek's interests are part of Singapore's broader relations with these continents," he added.

Europe is one of Singapore's biggest markets and the Eurozone countries have made progress stabilising their economies after the past few difficult years, raising its growth potential.

He noted that Singapore has negotiated the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, "a win-win proposition" as it helps European companies use the Republic as the gateway to expand into Asia, and Asian companies use it as a base to venture into Europe.

The trade pact is in the process of being ratified and requires the support of the European parliament and all 28 EU member countries. More than 10,000 European firms have a presence in Southeast Asia and Singapore-EU trade has grown more than 60 per cent in the last decade.

"Please lend your weight and persuasive powers to encourage all European governments to support and ratify the EUSFTA," he told the gathering at the Millenium Mayfair hotel.

On Africa, he noted that many countries, such as Botswana, Ghana and Rwanda are doing well and Singapore's ties with the region are growing rapidly. Bilateral trade has tripled in the last decade to over S$14b.

Mr Lee also noted that London was a natural choice for Temasek's latest office, given its financial hub and gateway status. The PM, who has been visiting London since Wednesday, noted that Singapore's ties with Britain are "longstanding and substantial". It is Britain's largest trading partner in Southeast Asia and three quarters of its investments into the EU are to Britain.

Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng said: "We are a long term investor. We invest into the longer term trends, and continue to see many opportunities emerge as the global economy rebalances."

Its portfolio investments in Europe or those with exposure in the continent include Standard Chartered which it has an 18.2 per cent stake in, retail and beauty firm AS Watson, at 25 per cent, and Spanish oil and gas giant Repsol, with a 6 per cent stake.

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