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Temasek sells shares in Facebook

It also offloads stakes in two other US firms, but sources say it remains focused on US market
Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 06:00

Singapore

SINGAPORE investment firm Temasek Holdings has offloaded its stakes in US-listed social networking company Facebook, seed maker Monsanto and industrial gas producer Air Products & Chemicals.

This was, however, not so much of a change in Temasek's US-equities strategy than a matter of realising gains from small investments, sources told The Business Times yesterday.

It is believed that Temasek may indeed be intensifying its focus on the US market, supported by its recently opened New York office.

When contacted, a Temasek spokesman declined to comment.

According to filings it made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Temasek - either directly or through its units - sold 4.3 million A shares of Facebook, valued at US$107 million, in the second quarter ended June 30, 2013.

It also sold 1.42 million Monsanto shares and 1.25 million Air Products & Chemicals shares.

The share sales came amid a spirited rally by US stocks this year. The Standard & Poor's 500 is up nearly 25 per cent so far in 2013 and on track for its largest annual gain since the 31 per cent advance in 1997, which was one of the best years in the more than 50 years' history of the broad gauge.

Boon Sim, Temasek's president for the Americas, had said in June that the investment firm was looking to increase its investments in the United States, to capitalise on US companies' edge in sectors such as energy, healthcare and technology. "We are more bullish than most people" on the US, he had said.

Temasek remains focused on energy, healthcare and technology stocks in the US - with its recently opened office at the Seagram Building on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan allowing it to focus more closely on such investments.

Victoria Barbary, director of the London-based Institutional Investor's Sovereign Wealth Center, told Bloomberg: "Temasek opened an office in New York earlier in the year and we expect that the fund is looking to make some large direct investments in the world's largest economy, rather than using small stakes in listed blue-chip companies."

Temasek's portfolio value grew to a record $215 billion at the close of its financial year ended March 31, 2013.

During the year, it made $20 billion in new investments while divesting itself of $13 billion. Its net investments were in the energy and resources sectors, and in North America and Europe.

In North America, Temasek invested in technology and energy companies. For example, it took up a 13 per cent stake in Jasper, a global cloud-based platform that enables mobile operators to provide machine-to-machine services.

Along with global private-equity investment firms Warburg Pincus, Kelso & Company and The Jordan Company, Temasek provided an initial US$1.125 billion capital commitment in May 2012 to Venari Resources, an oil company focused on deepwater exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

Temasek's exposure to North America and Europe grew to 12 per cent in that financial year. Its greatest exposure continued to be to Asia, at 71 per cent.

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