Temasek Holdings appointed former World Bank President Robert Zoellick to its board of directors as Singapore's state-owned investment company looks to start its first office in the U.S.
Mr. Zoellick will start Aug. 15, according to a statement on Temasek's website Thursday. Mr. Zoellick was president of the World Bank from July 2007 through June 2012 and also served as the U.S. trade representative in 2001 to 2005, during which the U.S. signed a free-trade agreement with Singapore, its first in Asia.
Mr. Zoellick “is probably the most high-profile person that Temasek has engaged and that says a lot about their global ambitions,” said Wai Ho Leong, an economist at Barclays in Singapore. “It's potentially significant, depending on what they do with that. It's extending their feelers, at the very least, in the U.S. space.”
Temasek's investments in North America and Europe make up a bigger part of its holdings, rising to 12% of its S$215 billion (US$169 billion) portfolio at the end of March, from 11% a year earlier. CEO Ho Ching has said she sees “increasing opportunities” in the two markets and is setting up offices in New York and London to support its investments.
The announcement came as former minister Lim Boon Heng takes over from S. Dhanabalan as Temasek's chairman Thursday. The sovereign wealth fund manager might add more foreigners to its board, the Straits Times newspaper cited Mr. Dhanabalan as saying.
Mr. Zoellick's appointment “comes at an opportune time, as Temasek sets out to establish its first U.S. office in the near future,” Mr. Lim said in the statement. “Bob's insights will be especially helpful as we continue to explore opportunities in USA, Europe and also in the various growth markets.”
The value of Temasek's holdings increased by 8.6% to a record in the year ended March 31, the investment company said in its annual report on July 4. Total shareholder return, which includes dividends, widened to 8.9% from 1.5% in the previous year.