Singapore’s state-linked investments circle the globe

SINGAPORE, Dec 30, 2007 (AFP) – From banks to telephones, an airline to shopping malls, and semiconductors to airports, the reach of two state-linked investment firms from the city-state of Singapore extends around the world. The normally secretive Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) were thrust into the spotlight in December with multi-billion-dollar investments in troubled global financial institutions, investment bank UBS and investment and brokerage firm Merrill Lynch.

In only a generation, the two companies’ assets have ballooned.

Temasek says its net portfolio worth is now more than 100 billion US dollars. GIC says it manages “well above” 100 billion dollars, but analysts say it could be as much as 300 billion or more.

Those figures place Temasek and GIC among the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, according to an October report by Citigroup Global Markets Inc.

Temasek, the elder of the two firms, was founded in 1974 to hold stakes in key companies formerly held by the young nation’s Ministry of Finance.

Its history “is entwined with that of independent Singapore and its economic development and growth,” Singapore President S.R. Nathan has said