Ho Ching to retire as CEO: 5 things to know about Temasek's leadership transition

Ms Ho Ching has held the CEO title at Singapore investment company Temasek since 2004.
Ms Ho Ching has held the CEO title at Singapore investment company Temasek since 2004.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - After more than 18 years at Singapore investment company Temasek, executive director and chief executive Ho Ching will retire and step down from its board on Oct 1.

She will be succeeded on the same date by Mr Dilhan Pillay, who joined Temasek in 2010 and has held various leadership roles there ever since.

Here are five things to know about the succession announcement that broke on Tuesday morning (Feb 9).

1. Not the first succession attempt

Former BHP Billiton CEO Charles "Chip" Goodyear was appointed to take over the helm from Ms Ho in 2009. Mr Goodyear shocked the nation when he decided to renege on his acceptance just six months later, citing "differences regarding certain strategic issues that could not be resolved".

2. Outgoing CEO among the world's most powerful women


Ms Ho Ching has held the CEO title at Temasek since 2004. PHOTO: REUTERS

Also known for being the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Ms Ho most recently made it to No. 30 on Forbes' list of the World's Most Powerful Women in 2020. She has consistently been on Forbes' annual list for the past 16 years and notably ranked No. 17 in 2018, up 11 spots from the previous year.

3. An illustrious career

While she has held the CEO title at Temasek since 2004, Ms Ho first joined the investment company as a director in 2002. Prior to that, she was the founding chairman of Singapore Technologies Engineering from 1997 till 2002. Ms Ho began her career in 1976 with the Defence Engineering Service at Singapore's Ministry of Defence. She subsequently joined the Singapore Technologies group as its director of engineering in 1988, and was its president and CEO from 1997 to 2001.

4. Temasek's portfolio growth

Under Ms Ho's stewardship, Temasek's net portfolio value has grown to $306 billion as at end-March 2020, up $120 billion over the last decade, with two-thirds of its underlying exposure in Asia. The majority of its portfolio exposure is now in China, which grew to account for 29 per cent of net portfolio value in 2020 as compared with 25 per cent in 2016.

5. Challenges ahead


Mr Dilhan Pillay is now faced with the colossal task of taking on the stewardship role of Temasek. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Pillay is now faced with the colossal task of taking on the stewardship role of Temasek, particularly in respect of Temasek's constitutional responsibilities to safeguard its own past reserves as a Fifth Schedule entity. The company recently reported just $8.8 billion in group net profit in 2020 - one of the worst returns since its record-low profit of $8.4 billion in 2016.