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Profits earned by Temasek 'are returned to community'

Company takes a long-term view, says its chairman on its 40th anniversary

[SINGAPORE] Temasek Holdings builds for the long term and the money it makes is returned to the community, said chairman Lim Boon Heng.

"There is a common thread in what Temasek does: What we do, we do with tomorrow in mind - a quote from one of our founding leaders Mr S Rajaratnam. So we build the institution and we build it for future generations," said Mr Lim last Friday.

He was speaking to the media as he reflected on the investment company's 40th anniversary.

Set up by the government in 1974 to hold the companies it owns, Temasek has a $215 billion portfolio as at March 31, 2013.

Underlining the community role of businesses, Mr Lim said that throughout history businesses regarded themselves not just as pure business but as part of the community. In China, successful businessmen repair roads and build bridges. In Singapore, successful people have built schools and also a university.

"We are part of that broader community so we learn, we earn and we return," he said.

"We learn by doing, with some occasional missteps; we earn by taking a long-term view and we return to our shareholders and to the community. So as a company we pay taxes like other companies, we pay a dividend to our shareholder, the Government, and we provide funds to help the community," he said.

Mr Lim, a former Cabinet minister and ex-labour chief, joined the Temasek board in June 2012 and took over as chairman last August from S Dhanabalan, who had chaired the board for 17 years.

"Now Temasek has a duty to the country, to our shareholder, so we have to preserve the value of Temasek and to grow Temasek. The funds that we provide to help the community come from the profits that we make over and above our risk-adjusted hurdle of return," he said.

Temasek helps the community through its non-profit philanthropic organisations (NPPOs).

Since 2003, Temasek has set aside $1.5 billion to fund its several NPPOs. They include the Temasek Foundation set up in 2007 with a $500 million endowment which has a mandate to build human and social capital in Asia.

The Foundation works with partners to support the training of public officials in education and healthcare, in governance, public administration and urban management. It has committed $117 million in 178 programmes in 19 countries.

As part of Temasek's 35th anniversary in 2009, it set up Temasek Cares with a $100 million endowment which has since expanded to $170 million.

Temasek Cares works with partners in Singapore to develop programmes to help improve lives of the underprivileged and disabled, poor and needy individuals, families and their caregivers.

This year, there will be a new $40 million Temasek Emergency Preparedness Fund, Mr Lim said. The latest fund would help people cope with difficult situations such as the trauma following severe accidents or environmental disasters, he said.