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Investors can invest in Temasek's first retail bond to boost retirement income: Ho Ching

INVESTORS can invest in Temasek Holding's first retail private equity bond to help supplement their retirement income, said Temasek chief executive Ho Ching.

Speaking at a Stewardship Asia forum on Monday, Ms Ho said that one of the things Temasek recognised years ago is that people in Asia are living longer with better economic growth and one of the key challenges is planning and funding retirement.

While Singapore has institutions like CPF for retirement, "we think we need to supplement it and companies can participate in this", she said.

"One of the things we decided to do is to try and make use of our skills and strengths to create new products for individuals to invest for their retirement," said Ms Ho who was replying to a question from the audience following her speech.

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Take housing as an example which is a chunky investment,  and beyond that home, investors can't really invest in other assets which are in some ways inflation-linked, she said.

"So we worked very hard to kick-start the real estate investment trust (Reit). The idea of of Reits is to democratise, unitise  the possibility of investing in different kinds of assets in very small quantities,  so the first Reit was to use shopping malls and convert them into Reits."

"The reason why we did that was we said for the individual investors, the mom and pop investors and the young man or the old lady who wants to invests in the Reit of shopping malls... he or she can go to the shopping mall to see whether the shopping mall thrives, whether people are carrying shopping bags and so on," said Ms Ho.

CapitaLand Mall Trust which owns shopping malls was also the first Singapore Reit launched for retail investors.

Temasek is now  in the process of introducing a product that allows retail investors to invest in private equity funds, she said.

"As you know these funds are open and accessible to many of you but not necessarily to the broad masses."

"But by creating a product which is diversified and therefore provides a better risk adjusted return for the individual, we can bring a new category of product to the market for the retail investor," said Ms Ho.

"So quite apart from things like housing this is another way that we as an institution, ...try to bring our skills and knowledge to create products in the future for those who want to invest for their retirement," said Ms Ho.

Temasek subsidiary Azalea Group is launching a private equity bond with a tranche targeted at retail investors, a structure which is believed to be a first in the world. Azalea pioneered a similar structure here in 2016 when it launched Astrea III, a series of fixed rate notes whose assets – comprising 34 private equity funds – have a current net asset value of nearly US$1 billion.

Azalea has lodged a prospectus for Astrea IV on the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Opera site. It plans to raise a total of US$500 million from the bond issuance, which comprises three tranches, each designed to target a particular risk appetite.

The least risky tranche is the Class A-1 retail offering amounting to S$242 million. A portion of the retail bonds will be offered to retail investors for subscription via ATMs with a minimum investment of S$2,000.

Earlier, in her speech, Ms Ho said that companies should not take the easy way out to retrench workers when technologies change. 

Companies have benefited from workers who have been trained in schools  and colleges, funded mostly by governments  and families, she said. 

"We should not take the easy way to retrench the obsolete, when technologies change - we should not throw the problem of skill obsolescence to governments and societies."

Businesses must step up, in a tripartite partnership with governments and unions, to upskill and reskill our workforce to be employable and future ready, she said. 

"In short, businesses should not outsource away our responsibilities as a key stakeholder for the common good."

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