Temasek to invest $1.1b in medical arm of Alphabet

A woman walks pass the Temasek Holdings office.
A woman walks pass the Temasek Holdings office. PHOTO: ST FILE

Temasek Holdings will invest US$800 million (S$1.1 billion) in Alphabet's medical arm Verily, which is working to bring some of its creations to market.

Temasek will get a minority stake in the company and will nominate a director to its operating board, according to a statement issued yesterday.

The bulk of the money will be pumped into Verily in the coming days, while the rest will come in the second half of this year, Verily said in the statement.

For Verily, which has been funded by Google's massive advertising revenue to date, an investment by Temasek could signal an expansion into China, where Temasek has its largest underlying asset exposure after Singapore.

"With a substantial network and insights into the economies in Asia, Temasek will provide valuable guidance as we look to ex-US markets with our development partners," Verily chief executive officer Andrew Conrad said in the statement.

Verily, formerly known as Google Life Sciences, was rebranded after Google's parent company became Alphabet in a corporate restructuring. Verily is among Alphabet's "big bets" as the Silicon Valley giant goes beyond its core and lucrative online search business for innovative new opportunities.

Verily, known formerly as Google Life Sciences, was rebranded after Google's parent company became Alphabet in a corporate restructuring. Verily is among Alphabet's "big bets" as the Silicon Valley giant goes beyond its core and lucrative online search business for innovative new opportunities.

The medical firm specialises in applying technology to problems in health and biology, and has been discussing ideas such as building a sickness-sensing diagnostic device.

Verily said it is creating tools and easy-to-use platforms to gather deep and broad sets of health information and organise them in ways that let action be taken.

Last year, Verily teamed up with French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi to "combine devices, software, medicine and professional care" to manage diabetes.

Verily also collaborates with Britain-based GlaxoSmithKline on "bioelectronic medicine", which it described as treating ailments by using miniature, implantable devices that can modify the body's electrical signals.

Temasek, on the other hand, has a portfolio covering telecommunications, media, finance and life sciences sectors around the world. Its portfolio value stood at $242 billion as of March 31 last year.

Temasek recently said it had increased its focus on North American technology ventures and established an office in San Francisco late last year.

Its largest United States-based investment is in Chinese e-commerce player Alibaba, with a stake valued at about US$3.7 billion. It also raised its stake in Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com from 0.54 per cent to about 0.64 per cent last year, according to filings in the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Temasek's life sciences portfolio investments include a stake in biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences, while in 2015, it took a stake in North American chemical distributor Univar.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Temasek to invest $1.1b in medical arm of Alphabet'. Print Edition | Subscribe