Temasek says gearing up for more US deals

Temasek, which was founded in 1974, had $308 billion in assets under management as of March 2018, based on the latest figures provided by the company.
Temasek, which was founded in 1974, had $308 billion in assets under management as of March 2018, based on the latest figures provided by the company. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore's US$200 billion (S$272 billion) investment company is gearing up for more deals in the United States.

Temasek says it is "underrepresented" in the world's biggest economy with about 15 per cent of its holdings in that market, and is "comfortable" increasing that to more than a fifth, according to Mr John Vaske, its head of Americas.

"From a broad investor mindset perspective, we want to have more representation in the US," Mr Vaske told Bloomberg Television in an interview on the sidelines of the Milken Institute global conference in Beverly Hills, California. "We see plenty of opportunities each and every week. We see that trend continuing."

The approach to the US will follow the sectors and themes that drive Temasek's investment strategy - telecommunications, media, technology, life sciences, agriculture, tech-enabled consumer businesses and financial services. Its biggest US holdings - based on filings - include Dell Technologies, PayPal and Gilead Sciences.

"Anything where technology is driving disruptive change or evolution is definitively something we want to be part of as an organisation," he said, declining to say how quickly the investment firm will scale up its holdings in the country.

Temasek, which was founded in 1974, had $308 billion in assets under management as of March 2018, based on the latest figures provided by the company. The firm has delivered a compounded annualised total shareholder return since inception of 15 per cent, in Singapore dollar terms.

China now accounts for about a quarter of Temasek's holdings, while Singapore is slightly ahead as its biggest investment destination.

Still, Temasek will be buying more at a time when the US government is increasing its scrutiny of foreign investments into the country.

Mr Vaske says that has not affected Temasek, which has offices in New York and San Francisco.

"No one that we talked to as part of that process thought that Singapore, generally speaking, or Temasek, specifically, was a bad actor," he said.

"In fact, they want our investment dollars coming to this market, so I think they will work with us constructively."

The company is also cognisant it will be acquiring more following a long run of economic expansion in the US, where stocks also rose above their record high at the start of the week - even after the International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for global growth to the lowest since the financial crisis a decade ago earlier this month.

"It's obviously late in the cycle," Mr Vaske said. "So from an underwriting perspective, we want to make sure that we contemplate some form of recessionary environment during the period of time under which we will probably own the investment. But it's not something we're obsessed with per se."

Mr Vaske joined Temasek in January 2017 after almost three decades at Goldman Sachs.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2019, with the headline 'Temasek says gearing up for more US deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe