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Temasek completes sell-down of US banks to focus on fintech

It has exited its holdings in institutions from Goldman Sachs Group Inc to Morgan Stanley

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Ms Png has said that given the rise of e-commerce, Temasek is focusing on digital and online payments.

Singapore

TEMASEK Holdings completed its total sell down of US-listed banks in the second quarter, exiting its holdings in institutions from Goldman Sachs Group Inc to Morgan Stanley, according to its 13F filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The Singapore investment company, whose portfolio climbed 12 per cent to S$308 billion in the year to March 31, has been gradually exiting its positions in US lenders as it focuses more on financial technology (fintech) and other new-economy investments.

Chinese banks, however, remain a priority. The final stake sales, while small, indicate an important shift in Temasek's thinking. It is among several large investors that are recalibrating their expectations amid rising trade and geopolitical tensions.

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In its annual review released in July, Temasek said that it expects global growth to moderate and noted that expansionary fiscal policy in the late cycle may risk a cyclical recession in the US. Temasek's latest 13F filing shows that it increased its shareholdings in companies including Global Payments Inc, PayPal Holdings Inc, CenturyLink Inc and Visa Inc.

Temasek's CenturyLink stake was worth US$2.3 billion as at June 30, while its Visa holding was valued at US$570 million.

Temasek senior managing director for China Png Chin Yee said last month that "almost all of our exposure before 2011 was actually in banks", when asked about the group's financial services exposure.

"Today, insurance is about 15 per cent of the overall financial services portfolio, and really we went into insurance because of the theme around rising affluence," she said at the time.

"Then later we identified payments as a very interesting sector, given the rise of e-commerce. We felt that digital payments, online payments were growing in importance and so our payments portfolio is now around about 3 per cent of the overall financial services portfolio."

The 13F filing also shows that Temasek slightly decreased its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and now holds 1.4 per cent of the Chinese tech giant, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Alibaba is still Temasek's biggest holding among its US publicly traded assets however, representing 35 per cent of the total and valued at about US$6.6 billion.

There were other partial sell-downs, in Amazon.com Inc, Amyris Inc and online sports retailer Netshoes Cayman Ltd, the statement shows.

One new investment is Aslan Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a clinical-stage biotech company based in Singapore whose focus is on Asia-prevalent cancers. Temasek purchased 1.42 million shares valued at US$12.7 million.

Temasek's quarterly 13F filings do not show non-US securities, holdings that are not publicly traded, or cash. BLOOMBERG