Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek plans to delay its annual report until September from the usual July announcement amid disruptions caused by the COVID-19 viral outbreak, CEO and Executive Director Ho Ching said in a Facebook post.
“This year, COVID has delayed financial reporting for many companies, especially those with operations all over the world. Many Temasek portfolio companies have businesses that span the globe,” she said.
“To accommodate this delay of global consolidation for financial reporting, Temasek’s own annual reporting will be delayed,” Ho added.
Analysts have pointed to the difficulty of estimating Temasek’s portfolio size this year, in part due to a higher proportion of its portfolio being invested in privately held companies.
Temasek’s fiscal year ends 31 March; its portfolio valuation was likely dented by global markets hitting a nadir in March, although they have since recovered.
Ho also highlighted that Temasek invests on longer-term horizons for trends, with some of those trends being accelerated by the pandemic.
“We also aim to build a fortress balance sheet in the event of a downturn. As a result, we have been in net cash since 2007-2008, just before the global financial crisis hit,” she said.
In its 2019 review, Temasek highlighted its four basic investment themes: Transforming economies, growing middle-income populations, deepening comparative advantages and emerging champions. It added those themes that led to six structural trends: longer lifespans, rising affluence, sustainable living, a more connected world, the sharing economy and smarter systems.
Ho pointed to concerns over the pandemic’s impact on the global economy, saying it had become a bigger-than-expected problem and noting the company had needed to recapitalize Singapore Airlines.
Earlier this year, Temasek, which held nearly 56 per cent of the carrier, took up most of Singapore Airlines’ rights issue, which raised around $8.8 billion. SIA also raised another S$900 million via long-term loans secured by some of its aircraft.
Ho also noted that Temasek was a key contributor to the Singapore government’s budget, with half of its expected long-term returns available for spending. She said Temasek, along with GIC – another state-owned investment company which invests the city-state’s reserves – and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, have provided the single largest source of government revenue over the past 20 years, and have amounted to more than 20 per cent of government operating revenue over the past five years.
Those comments come as Singapore has entered the campaign period for its upcoming general election, set for 10 July. All of the city-state’s 93 seats in Parliament are being contested, marking only the second time that’s happened since the country’s independence.
While the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is generally expected to maintain its comfortable majority, opposition parties frequently point to a lack of transparency from the state-owned investment companies and often urge the government to spend more of its reserves.
To be sure, after years of maintaining a “prudent” stance on keeping reserves in the event of a crisis, the government has since put forward four budgets this year, with S$193 billion in total, to counter the economic impact of the pandemic.