Temasek Holdings Pte, Singapore’s state-owned investment company, named former Singapore Exchange Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Hsieh Fu Hua an executive director and president, making him one of the group’s top three managers.
Hsieh will move into the new position on Aug. 1 and work closely with Chief Executive Officer Ho Ching on issues including personnel development and succession planning, the company said in an e-mailed statement today.
Hsieh’s promotion comes 10 months after Temasek aborted the planned appointment of Charles “Chip” Goodyear, the former head of BHP Billiton Ltd., to replace Ho, citing “strategic differences.” Hsieh, 59, joins Ho and Singapore operations head Simon Israel as executive directors, according to Temasek’s Web site.
“There have been some succession planning issues of late at Temasek, especially with Chip leaving,” said Melvyn Teo, a director at the BNP Paribas Hedge Fund Centre at Singapore Management University. “Temasek is at a crossroads and is trying to position itself for the road ahead.”
Temasek also said Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara will join the company as head of portfolio management on Oct. 18. Sandrasegara, 47, is currently the managing partner of WongPartnership LLP, a Singapore-based law firm.
Hsieh, named to Temasek’s board in February, resigned from Singapore Exchange on Dec. 1, ending his six-year tenure.
“Perhaps in anticipation of plenty of regulatory changes in the landscape, a lawyer may be better equipped to deal with the minefield of legal terms out there,” said Song Seng-Wun, an economist in Singapore at CIMB-GK Research Pte. “Obviously he would have plenty of experienced people in the team as far as portfolio management is concerned.”
Goodyear was slated to become the investment firm’s first foreign chief executive since its inception in 1974. Temasek, which manages about S$172 billion ($122 billion), recruited Goodyear in February 2009 after investments in financial companies under Ho, the wife of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, tumbled during the global credit crisis.
Temasek has spent more than $1.2 billion on energy and resources companies from the U.S. to India since Goodyear’s departure in July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It made a $500 million investment this month in Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., the third-largest U.S. natural-gas producer.
The state-owned fund, set up in 1974 to foster development of Singapore’s banks, airlines and ports, now holds stakes in financial services, real estate, telecommunications, energy and transportation companies in at least four continents.
It is the biggest shareholder in five of Singapore’s 10 biggest publicly traded companies by market value including Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest phone company, and DBS Group Holdings Ltd., the region’s largest bank by assets.
“Temasek is maturing as a firm, and it’s important to manage talent and ensure a fresh supply of ideas,” Teo said. “A lot of the local guys are getting more influential within Temasek. I’m wondering if it’s a trend.”