Temasek Said to Hire Morgan Stanley M&A Executive Popper

Temasek Holdings Pte, Singapore’s state-owned investment company, hired Morgan Stanley managing director Jonathan Popper, said two people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified.

Popper oversaw mergers and acquisitions in Southeast Asia for the New York-based bank, where he has worked since 2001. Nick Footitt, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, confirmed that Popper will be leaving the firm, declining to comment further.

At Morgan Stanley, Popper was involved in advising Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi on his S$8.9 billion ($7.3 billion) offer for Singapore’s Fraser & Neave Ltd. Charoen, who is vying with a group led by Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd. for Fraser & Neave, yesterday extended his bid ahead of a deadline for final bids later this month.

Temasek, which managed S$198 billion of assets as of March 31, said in June it’s seeking investment opportunities as the turmoil in Europe may result in a market slump rivaling the 2008 global financial crisis.

The fund’s senior hires from global investment banks in the past 18 months include Boon Sim, Credit Suisse Group AG’s ex-global head of mergers and acquisitions John Cryan, UBS AG’s former chief financial officer, and Tan Chong Lee, former head of corporate and investment banking in Southeast Asia at Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit.

Rising Rankings

Sim and Cryan are now Temasek’s presidents for North America and Europe respectively, while Tan is its chief investment officer.

Temasek spokesman Tan Yong Meng declined to comment on Popper’s hiring. Popper didn’t respond to a call and a text message to his mobile phone seeking comment on the move.

In Southeast Asia, Morgan Stanley improved its mergers advisory ranking from ninth in 2011 to fifth last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Besides the F&N deal in 2012, it also advised Prudential Plc in its purchase of the life insurance business of Thailand’s Thanachart Bank Pcl and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in its bid to buy Temasek’s stake in PT Bank Danamon Indonesia.

Wall Street firms have cut jobs and compensation amid a worldwide slump in deal making and stock trading last year. Morgan Stanley plans to eliminate about 1,600 jobs from its investment bank and support staff in coming weeks, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said this week.