Temasek Holdings is an investment company owned wholly by the Ministry of Finance (MOF). Along with GIC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), it’s one of the entities that help manage Singapore’s National Reserves. According to MOF, Temasek is an active, value-oriented equity investor that aims to maximise shareholder value over the long term.
In its latest FY2023 Temasek Review Report, Temasek reported a New Portfolio Value of S$382 billion. This is 1.8 times the value of its portfolio a decade ago. It is also about 100 times larger than its original founding portfolio during its inception in 1974.
A Brief History Of Temasek
Temasek’s history can be said to be closely linked to Singapore and was even mentioned in the CNA documentary Singapore Reserves.
Founded in 1974, Temasek took over an eclectic collection of some 35 companies from the Singapore Minister for Finance. To keep this brief, what basically happened from Singapore’s independence in 1965 to 1974 was that the Singapore government found itself owning a variety of new businesses and the government felt that it was necessary to separate government from the business management. As explained by Temasek, this stemmed from the principle that it was not the business of the government to operate the businesses it owned.
At Temasek’s 40th anniversary in 2014, then President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, noted in his address:
“It was clearly not the business of government to run such enterprises, and so Temasek was set up to take over and own some 35 companies and miscellaneous investments”.
It was this principle that led to the establishment of Temasek to own and manage the assets previously held by the Singapore Government.
At its inception in 1974, Temasek had 35 companies in its initial portfolio worth a total of $354 million. Today, it still owns, directly or indirectly, 10 of the original 35 companies.
# 1 Development Bank Of Singapore Ltd (DBS)
Without even doing any research, most Singaporeans will probably be able to make an educated guess that DBS, currently the single biggest name by market capitalisation within Temasek’s portfolio at 6%, was one of the original 35 companies that form Temasek’s portfolio.
DBS was founded in 1967 by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and was meant primarily to service the industrial financing needs of companies operating in Singapore – which led to the word “developing bank”. Before that, EDB itself was providing the financing support of companies. DBS was created to take over the financial functions of the EDB.
Today, DBS is the largest bank in Singapore and Southeast Asia today with a market capitalisation of about $88 billion based on its share price as of 17 September 2023
# 2 Jurong Bird Park Pte Ltd (Now Part Of Mandai Parks Holding Private Limited)
Most of us have been to the Bird Park, at least the one that was previously based in Jurong.
Like the current Bird Park which has been relocated to Mandai, Jurong Bird Park Pte Ltd is part of the Mandai Park Holding Private Limited. Mandai Park Holdings is, in turn, owned by Temasek. Unlike DBS which is a publicly traded stock, Mandai Park Holdings is privately held.
# 3 & # 4 Jurong Shipbuilders Pte Ltd & Jurong Shipyard Pte Ltd (Now Part Of Seatrium Limited, Previously Known As Sembcorp Marine)
As one of the world’s busiest ports, it comes as no surprise that the shipbuilding and the shipyard industry has been one of the biggest propellers of our economy.
At the official opening of Jurong Shipbuilders on March 29, 1972, then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew explained the logic behind the government’s intention: “Shipbuilding is high on labour content. In some advanced countries, wages are going up faster than automation can cut down total wage costs. “So the building of standard vessels will move to those countries, like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, where wages are lower than those of the industrialised countries and where the workers are diligent and can be trained to high skills.”
As for Jurong Shipyard, it began operations in 1964 to construct, maintain and repair all manner of ships and vessels, and also housed workshops for the construction, manufacture and assembly of heavy equipment.
Both of these assets are now part of Seatrium Limited. Seatrium itself was formerly known as Sembcorp Marine and is part of Temasek’s portfolio.
# 5 Keppel Shipyard (Now Known As Keppel Corp)
Now known today as Keppel Corp, Keppel Shipyard was founded in 1968 to operate the Keppel Harbour at Tanjong Pagar. Today, Keppel Corp itself has diversified into other businesses including real estate, infrastructure and connectivity. It’s a listed company with a market cap of about $12.7 billion
#6 Primary Industrial Enterprises Pte Ltd (Now known as Primary Industries and part of SATS)
Part of the larger SATS group today, Primary Industries is a food processing company. Today, it’s under the SATS group and you can read the account of an employee of Primary Industries who has been working there for 47 years. SATS is a publicly listed company that also counts Temasek Holding as its biggest shareholder.
#7 Sembawang Holdings Pte Ltd (Part of Sembcorp Industries Today)
Today, Sembawang Holdings is part of Sembcorp Industries Ltd, a listed company with a market cap of about $9.31 billion. Sembcorp industries is involved in renewable energy, integrated urban solution and conventional energy.
#8 Singapore Airlines (SIA)
Another company that shares its history with post-independence Singapore, Singapore Airlines (SIA) officially began in 1972, after the separation of Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA). Today, SIA has grown to be one of the best airlines in the world. It’s also seeing record net profit in FY22/23 with the reopening of borders over the past 12 months. Its market cap today is about $20.4 billion.
#9 Singapore Airport Duty-Free Emporium (Private Limited) (Now known as KrisShop Pte. Ltd. which is part of Singapore Airlines Limited)
Part of the bigger SIA Group today, KrisShop, as we are all very familiar with, was also one of the original 35 companies that form Temasek’s original portfolio.
#10 Singapore Zoological Gardens (Now part of Mandai Park Holdings Pte. Ltd.)
Similar to the Jurong Bird Park, the Singapore Zoo was also built by the government and is today part of Mandai Park Holdings Pte Ltd). Along with the Night Safari, they are all owned by Temasek Holdings under the Mandai Park Holdings Pte Ltd.
Notable Omission (SingTel)
Some of you may be puzzled why SingTel isn’t part of our list today. This is because SingTel was only privatised by the government in 1993 (before that, it was a Statutory Board known as Singapore Telephone Board). So while Temasek owns quite a fair amount of SingTel shares today, SingTel itself isn’t part of Temasek’s original portfolio of 35 companies.
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