Temasek completes sale of all shares in US-listed banks to focus on fintech

Temasek senior managing director for China Png Chin Yee said last month that given the rise of e-commerce, Temasek is focusing on digital and online payments.
Temasek senior managing director for China Png Chin Yee said last month that given the rise of e-commerce, Temasek is focusing on digital and online payments.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Latest filing to US Securities and Exchange Commission shows its rising focus on fintech

Temasek Holdings completed its total selldown of US-listed banks in the second quarter, exiting its holdings in institutions from Goldman Sachs Group to Morgan Stanley, according to its 13F filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Singapore investment firm, whose portfolio climbed 12 per cent to $308 billion in the year to March 31, has been gradually exiting its positions in US lenders as it focuses more on fintech and other new-economy investments. Chinese banks, however, remain a priority.

The final stake sales, while small, indicate an important shift in Temasek's thinking. It is among several large investors that are recalibrating their expectations amid rising trade and geopolitical tensions.

In its annual review released last month, it said it expects global growth to moderate and noted that expansionary fiscal policy in the late cycle may risk a cyclical recession in the United States.

Its latest 13F filing shows it increased its shareholdings in companies including Global Payments, PayPal Holdings, CenturyLink and Visa. Its CenturyLink stake was worth US$2.3 billion (S$3.2 billion) as of June 30, while its Visa holding was valued at US$570 million.

Asked about the group's financial services exposure, Ms Png Chin Yee, Temasek's senior managing director for China, said last month that "almost all of our exposure before 2011 was actually in banks".

  • 12%

    Increase in Temasek Holdings' portfolio to $308 billion in the year to March 31.

"Today, insurance is about 15 per cent of the overall financial services portfolio and really we went into insurance because of the theme around rising affluence," she said at the time.

"Then later, we identified payments as a very interesting sector, given the rise of e-commerce. We felt that digital payments, online payments were growing in importance and so our payments portfolio is now about 3 per cent of the overall financial services portfolio."

The 13F filing also shows Temasek slightly decreased its stake in Alibaba Group Holding and now holds 1.4 per cent of the Chinese tech giant, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Alibaba is still Temasek's biggest holding among its US publicly traded assets, however, representing 35 per cent of the total and valued at about US$6.6 billion. There were other partial sell-downs - in Amazon.com, Amyris and online sports retailer Netshoes Cayman, the statement shows.

One new investment is Aslan Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biotech firm based in Singapore whose focus is on Asia-prevalent cancers. Temasek purchased 1.42 million shares valued at US$12.7 million.

Temasek's quarterly 13F filings do not show non-US securities, holdings that are not publicly traded, or cash.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'Temasek sells all shares in US-listed banks'. Print Edition | Subscribe