by Brad Bowyer
As many have asked for my detailed views or questioned my motives without actually reading either my original post of the factually assertion I am attaching here my notes on the “Corrections and clarifications regarding falsehoods posted by Mr Brad Bowyer” posting at the gov.sg site. I do encourage you to read both to draw your own views.
1. The Facebook post by Mr Brad Bowyer contains false statements of fact and misleading statements.
I. Singapore Government’s involvement in investment decisions by Temasek and GIC.
2. Mr Bowyer implies that the Singapore Government controls Temasek’s and GIC’s commercial decisions. This is false.
Brad Bowyer (BPB) – I do not assert this however I do suggest that they have a level of oversight. If this is not the case it would be a fair question to ask why the government does not have any oversight of Temasek or GIC as they invest public funds and have government members on their boards with the Prime Minister being the chairman of GIC and his wife as head of Temasek for example.
3. The Government does not influence, let alone direct, the individual investment decisions made by Temasek and GIC. Which companies they invest in, or divest from, is entirely the responsibility of their respective management teams. The Government likewise does not interfere in the commercial decisions of Temasek’s and GIC’s portfolio companies.
BPB – I do not argue that they directly influence these decisions however again as custodians of public funds and assets I find it hard to believe that these entities have a free hand and if they in fact do have a totally free hand then we should fairly question why?
4. Temasek and GIC are run on market principles, independent of the Government. Many of their portfolio companies are publicly listed. The Government’s role is to ensure that Temasek and GIC have competent boards, which ensure that their respective mandates are met. The Government also holds the boards of Temasek and GIC accountable for their respective overall performances.
BPB – I have no issue with this clarification beyond if oversights or influence stops at board appointments then we should surely revisit that level of oversight and influence as Temasek is wholly owned by the government and GIC is the Government Investment Corporation.
II. Amaravati Project
5. Mr Bowyer says “…we also saw the recent canning of the Amaravati city project part of the S$4 billion already dumped into Andhra Pradesh by GLCs and related parties so India has not been so good an investment choice after all…”. There are implicit factual assertions that (1) a substantial part of S$4 billion invested in Andhra Pradesh was put into the Amaravati project; and (2) S$4 billion has been poorly invested (“dumped”) by Government-linked companies (“GLCs”) and related parties in Andhra Pradesh. These are false.
BPB – I dont know if that is false so it would be nice to know exactly how much and by whom has gone in to these projects as it is clearly a matter of public interest and there are unanswered questions on the level of losses and whether given the political nature of the area it was wise investment. Am happy to stand corrected if there are no issues here.
6. First, the Singapore Consortium (comprising Ascendas Singbridge Pte Ltd (now part of CapitaLand Group) and Sembcorp Development Ltd) in the Amaravati project has stated publicly that the costs incurred have been limited to design services prior to commencement of execution works on the ground, amounting to a few million dollars. There are no billions of dollars involved.
BPB – I am glad to hear and report this despite what I heard in prior media reports.
7. Second, not only GLCs and related parties have invested in Andhra Pradesh. Several other Singaporean companies have also done so. An example of a non-GLC investment in Andhra Pradesh is Indus Coffee Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of a listed company in Singapore.
BPB – Useful additional information but does not really address whether the whole investment was a prudent one or not.
III. Salt Bae
8. Mr Bowyer asserts that Temasek invested in the debt-ridden parent company which owns Salt Bae. This is false.
BPB – I did not actually assert this as its clear I talk about the parent company as a separate issue however I do imply that a better level of due diligence should have been performed before the investment was made as the parent company was debt ridden for some time.
9. The Salt Bae chain of restaurants is owned by a company called D.ream International BV, which operates 60 restaurants throughout the world via four operating subsidiaries. Temasek invested in D.ream International BV, and not in one of D.ream International BV’s shareholders called Doğuş Holding A.Ş. The company that is reportedly in difficulties according to the article cited by Mr Bowyer, is Doğuş Holding A.Ş., and not D.ream International BV.
BPB – This is a fair clarification of the finer details of the shareholdings but does not change from the main point that the parent company (Dogus Holdings) is in financial trouble and D.ream (Dogus Restaurants Entertainment & Management) are not getting the valuation that was accorded them when Temasek invested.
BPB — The balance of the notice are clarifications that the government wishes to assert in this area and I leave it to readers to look at my original article, the clarifications and do their own research to decide what to make of them.
I would like to highlight however that I don’t feel I am using false and misleading statements to smear Temasek or GIC just using publicly available data to question their decision making and more importantly the governments oversight of that. If they feel slighted or aggrieved, I apologise but feel it is fair to comment when such sums and negative results are in question without any clarification or response to the contrary.
On the point of Keppel I feel that the $0.5 Billion fine is in fact a loss. The company itself may not have made an overall loss but the unnecessary expense is money it did not have to lose if it had acted in a manner that didn’t incur such a fine but I guess this can be argued as a business expense, maybe?
I am glad Singtel is claimed to be doing well as evidenced by its current share price but is it not fair to ask could it be better if there was not the Bharti Airtel investment?
On the point on the $4 billion dollar investment in Andhra Pradesh I am sure many of us would welcome if some of it was not doing poorly and we look forward to hearing the details of the bits that will make up for those not doing so well although we are yet to see or hear of any.
On a final general note, I feel we should all do our best to comment factually and responsibly however when questions arise just asserting something is false or giving irrelevant information does not answer valid questions. With more transparency, clarification and accountability we can rest easier that our interests are in safe hands.