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Insomnia for Singapore’s state investors

The following is an excerpt from The Star Online

Seah Chiang Nee/

Japan's nuclear crisis is spewing serious fallouts towards Singapore’s recovering economy. Source:Kyodo News/AP

 

 

As Singaporeans’ concern mount over the safety of millions of Japanese, a small group of state investors are probably burning the midnight oil in Singapore.

These people, who manage the two sovereign state funds with assets and investments worth in excess of US$200bil (RM610bil), are likely to be poring over possible future options.

They are not only keeping watch on the nuclear drama unfolding in Japan, but also on the spreading violent upheavals in the Middle East, where the republic has high stakes.

Recently, Foreign Minister George Yeo told Parliament that Singapore had to “adjust to changes” taking place there.

In 1999, the government began a strategy of investing heavily in overseas markets to get a higher return for the state funds.

Calling it “a second external pair of wings,” the city pushed massive investments abroad.

It was a good concept that was soon adopted by other countries.

The two sovereign funds are Temasek Holdings, which operates a portfolio of US$142bil (RM432,72bil), and GIC, or Government Investment Corp, which manages foreign reserves of well over US$100bil (RM305bil).

With the local market too small for such a huge amount of funds, and competition rising from countries like China and India, the leaders turned to the outside world to find new income sources.

Besides, the world was in good shape, and emerging Asia was offering terrific new growth opportunities.

However, the foreign foray has been pushed back now and then by bad luck and a few bad investment decisions.

In the past decade, these investment wings have flapped from one air pocket to another.

The latest – a devastated Japan – is probably the worst.

Its nuclear crisis is spewing serious fallouts towards Singapore’s recovering economy.

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