Wednesday March 17, 2010

Temasek senior MD Dee to step down

SINGAPORE: Singapore state-investor Temasek’s senior managing director Michael Dee will step down from his current role on April 30, the second high-profile foreigner to leave the sovereign wealth fund in less than a year.

The departure of Dee comes after last year’s failed experiment to bring in former BHP Billiton head Chip Goodyear as chief executive.

Goodyear, who would have replaced CEO Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore’s prime minister, decided to leave after strategic differences with Temasek. Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said last year Temasek’s next chief would “ideally” be a Singaporean.

Temasek has seen a number of changes in its management ranks in the past few months. It moved Charles Ong, another senior MD and chief strategist, to start a new investment company that could eventually draw funds from Singaporeans.

It brought in former Singapore Exchange chief executive Hsieh Fu Hua on its board and as a special adviser to Ho, while another Singaporean Michael Lien, the head of a Singapore-based family office, joined as non-executive director.

“It seems like the company is focusing its efforts on locally grown talent,” said Melvyn Teo, an associate professor at Singapore Management University. “The investment strategy in the recent past has been to focus more on this region, so it would be in sync with this strategy.”

Temasek has said it plans to cut exposure to developed markets and sees potential in Asia, Latin America and Africa, as sovereign wealth funds around the world cautiously emerge from the financial crisis.

Dee, an ex-investment banker who worked at Morgan Stanley for more than two decades, would remain in an advisory role as senior director until the end of 2010, Temasek said yesterday. Dee, an engaging and interactive speaker, often stood up to explain his point of view, according to people who have seen him working, in contrast to the more conservative style of many executives at Singapore’s state companies. — Reuters

For another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network, click here.

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