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Temasek results show banks back in vogue

Financial services give good exposure to the region.

Here’s an interesting footnote to Temasek’s latest full-year review: banks are back in favour.

The Singapore sovereign wealth fund reported a return to shareholders of 12.19% for the year to March 31, with a characteristically lively amount of churn – S$29 billion ($21.2 billion) of investments and S$16 billion of divestments during the year.

And while investments in tech disruptors like Go-Jek, Tencent and Ant Financial tend to catch the headlines, it is worth noting that financial services now accounts for 26% of the portfolio, the biggest single sector constituent, up from 25% a year ago and 23% in 2016.


During that two-year spell, financial services has overtaken technology, media and telecom. This is despite the fact that Temasek trimmed its holding in ICBC during the period and is in the process of selling its stake in Indonesia’s Bank Danamon to MUFG.

What does this tell us? Firstly, this is a reflection of what Temasek has always looked for. Its four key investment themes are transforming economies, growing middle-income populations, deepening comparative advantages and emerging champions; banks chime with all these themes. Holding 29% of DBS, 16% of Standard Chartered and 4% of China Construction Bank is very helpful when you want to reach growing middle-income populations.

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