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Temasek boosts returns by backing Singapore's new role in Asia

As Singapore moves to meet the challenges of globalization and the greater influence of China and India, once-sleepy Temasek Holdings has been told to hike returns and promote a new vision. The result: frenetic activity.

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IN THE RECENTLY published annual report of Temasek Holdings, its first since its foundation in 1974, the first reference to the fact that the company is state owned does not appear until halfway through the 68 pages. Add to that the opening statement on page one of the report and the message is clear. "Temasek Holdings is an Asia investment company headquartered in Singapore," it reads. "We are committed to maximizing long-term shareholder value as an active investor and shareholder of successful enterprises."

Temasek is not trying to disassociate itself from its roots as a state-owned institution but is keen to set out its strategic objectives independently of any inferred involvement of government.

"We're not shy of our pedigree," says S Iswaran, managing director strategic development at Temasek Holdings. "The only point is that we don't see the need to constantly assert it because it's not relevant to the way we conduct our business which is purely on commercial terms."

Clear message It is a message that the financial community has clearly heard. "They wanted to send a very strong message that they are their own people," says Robin Tomlin, vice chairman, Asia, for UBS AG in Singapore.

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