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Massive investment firm Temasek says portfolio jumped 13% to $197 billion

  • Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek reported its portfolio rose to a record 275 billion Singapore dollars (about $198.6 billion currently and $197 billion as of fiscal year-end) for the year ended March 31
  • That represented a 13 percent rise in local terms

Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek reported Tuesday that its portfolio rose to a record 275 billion Singapore dollars ($197 billion at fiscal year-end) — up 13 percent year-over-year in local terms — for the year ended March 31.

For the longer term 10-year and 20-year total shareholder return (TSR), one of Temasek's key metrics for itself, the fund reported 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The annual TSR since the 1974 inception was 15 percent.

Bryan van der Beek | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Temasek invested S$16 billion and divested S$18 billion in the portfolio during the fiscal year, marking the first net divestment position since the end of March, 2009.

Tuesday's report marks a sharp turnaround from the previous year, when Temasek reported its net portfolio value tumbled by around S$24 billion, or around 9 percent, to around S$242 billion as of March 31, 2016.

It was the first time the portfolio had declined since 2009, which was during the global financial crisis.

But the markets Temasek has focused on have recovered since then, with Singapore's Straits Times Index up around 12.7 percent from April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017.

Lee Theng Kiat, Temasek's executive director and CEO, said in a statement that the investment company continued to focus on new, long-term opportunities in areas including technology, life sciences, agribusiness, non-bank financial services, consumer and energy and resources.

He noted that investments in those segments had risen over the last six years from 8 percent to 24 percent of the portfolio last year. Lee said that had delivered "better returns than our average return from our portfolio as a whole."

While the company had previously looked to publicly listed investments, Lee noted that Temasek was focusing on private and "negotiated opportunities," pointing toward rich equity market valuations.

Among Temasek's large holdings, shares of DBS rose around 27 percent over the fiscal year, while shares of SingTel were up around 4.5 percent.

Standard Chartered shares rose around 68 percent and shares of U.S.-listed Alibaba were up nearly 37 percent over the course of the fiscal year.

But on the downside, shares of Singapore Airlines tumbled nearly 12 percent during the fiscal year.

It's also been betting on itchy Chinese feet, with stakes in Chinese travel-booking websites, as well as investments in Alibaba, JD.com and Amazon.

Temasek has also looked to the delivery end of e-commerce, with a stake in Chinese express delivery company ZTO Express, which delivers packages for JD.com and Alibaba.
Among other investments, Temasek said it had invested in Koubei, an Alibaba-affiliated local services guide platform for offline Chinese merchants, and Wish, a mobile-first, e-commerce platform.

It also invested an additional S$1.6 billion in SingTel, in a deal involving the sale of part of its Intouch Holdings stake and its remaining stake in Bharti Airtel to SingTel.

Temasek also acquired all the minority shares in Singapore transport operator SMRT and delisted it from the Singapore Exchange.

The company also committed $800 million to Verily Life Sciences, which was spun off from Google. It also invested in Brazilian microbial fertilizer company SuperBAC, U.S.-based vegetable seed producer VoloAgri and plant-based meat and dairy product company Impossible Foods.

In India, Temasek invested in life insurance company SBI Life and Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals, and increased its stake in HDFC Bank.

The company has also bet on payments, with shares in Mastercard and Visa.

Lee's concerns about high equity market valuations echoed sentiment from Singapore's GIC, which issued a cautious outlook on Monday.

GIC CEO Lim Chow Kiat said in a statement that the fund had taken a relatively cautious stance, citing stretched valuations, policy uncertainty and economic concerns.

"We are prepared for a period of protracted uncertainty and low returns," GIC's Lim said in a statement on Monday. "As a long-term value investor, we remain cautious and recognise that to generate good real returns over time, we have to be prepared for periods of underperformance relative to the market indices, some even for a stretch of several years."

GIC said that over the 20 years through the end of March, its annualized real rate of return, or the return excluding the global inflation rate, was 3.7 percent a year.

The Sovereign Wealth Center recently estimated GIC's portfolio was valued at $353.6 billion. GIC doesn't state its portfolio size, but on its website it said the amount was "well over $100 billion."

Clarification: This article was updated to reflect the currency conversion rate at the end of the fiscal year.