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Temasek launches vehicle to super-charge agriculture, food deals

[SINGAPORE] Temasek International is setting up a new vehicle to help accelerate and manage agricultural and food investments as part of a multibillion-dollar push into the market.

Anuj Maheshwari, managing director of Agribusiness, said the platform will have two main missions - to help agri-food portfolio companies build the operational capabilities needed to get products off the drawing board and into the market, and to help them build the manufacturing and production scale "to the next level". The plans come as the Singapore government-owned investment firm becomes an increasingly important dealmaker in the sector globally. It has invested more than US$5 billion in the agri-food industry in the past five years, backing fake-meat makers such as Impossible Foods and established giants like Bayer as Singapore targets a strategic goal of getting 30 per cent of its food requirements from local sources by 2030.

Life-science and agribusiness investments made up 8 per cent of its S$306 billion portfolio as at March, up from 4 per cent in 2017.

"The startups and the innovators have realised there are products that customers can accept but they need to be scaled up and that's where capital will be required," Mr Maheshwari said, adding that governments, regulators and established suppliers would need to help the industry. "The platform will probably have a role to play in that."

Mr Maheshwari also said the nature of Temasek's deals are flexible. While it has long preferred to be a minority investor, it recently bought a majority stake in Israeli micro-irrigation firm Rivulis and backed the existing management team.

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The exact details of whether the platform will include Temasek's existing investments, be wholly owned by the firm or a joint venture with external partners have yet to be decided. Previous platforms include Pavilion Energy, which was started with S$1 billion in 2013 with a focus on liquefied natural gas, and the US$500 million O2 Power renewable energy platform jointly established with EQT Infrastructure.

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