Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings on Tuesday said its net portfolio value (NPV) slipped 2.2 per cent on-year to around S$306 billion, or $214 billion, by the end of March as the global pandemic weighed heavily on financial markets.
“On the whole, we are pleased with our performance, despite the sharp correction due to COVID-19. We have a good mix of listed and unlisted investments, a good balance between our portfolio stalwarts, and our new investments into emerging and longer-term trends. These help to add to our resilience,” Dilhan Pillay, CEO of Temasek International, said in a statement.
The preliminary figures were based on unaudited financial statements. Many of Temasek’s portfolio companies had delayed reporting their results amid disruptions caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, which has caused lockdowns and supply chain disruptions globally.
In comparison, Temasek noted the MSCI Singapore Index had fallen 18.3 per cent over the fiscal-year period, while the MSCI World Index lost 5.8 per cent.
“As was evidenced during the SARS epidemic and the Global Financial Crisis, Temasek typically outperforms market indices during market downturns,” the company said in a statement.
In a video statement accompanying the press release, Pillay noted the pandemic has caused the worst economic dislocation probably since World War II.
“The end of our financial year coincided with the worst of the market dislocations during the onset of COVID,” he said in the video, noting the public market hit a nadir on March 23. “The market value of our listed assets has risen since the end of March.”
But he added that the market rebound recently should be “viewed with caution,” as a second wave of infections is forcing some places back into lockdowns. “Markets may well resume their volatile behaviour.”
Temasek said the final portfolio figure for the fiscal year ended March 31 wasn’t expected to be materially different; the finalised results are due in September.
“Temasek ended the year in a net cash position with a strong balance sheet… It also stands ready to invest in opportunities arising from volatile market conditions during and post COVID-19 recovery,” it added.
Pillay emphasised in his video statement that Temasek will continue to invest along the lines of the long-term structural trends already guiding the portfolio.
In its 2019 review, Temasek highlighted its four underlying investment themes: transforming economies, growing middle-income populations, deepening comparative advantages and emerging champions. It added those themes led to six structural trends: longer lifespans, rising affluence, sustainable living, a more connected world, the sharing economy and smarter systems.
Pillay also said Temasek’s efforts to develop new technology were continuing, pointing to a tie-up with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to trial a blockchain-based multi-currency payments platform with more than 40 companies.
He also highlighted several portfolio companies that have joined the pandemic-war effort. UK-based BenevolentAI is using its technology to help develop new drugs against the virus, while US-based drone company Zipline is helping deliver essential medical supplies in rural Ghana. Singapore-based Tychan is developing antibody treatments for COVID-19.
SMRT and Hope Technik have worked with other transportation companies to engineer negative-pressure vehicles, called COMETs, to transport COVID patients without transmitting the virus to others, he added.
The company highlighted that its total shareholder return (TSR), which includes dividends but not capital injections since its 1974 creation has been 14 per cent compounded annually. The NPV has tripled from S$90 billion on March 31 2004, with a TSR over the 16-year period of 7.5 per cent compounded annually, Temasek said.
Editor’s note: Temasek’s net portfolio value for the fiscal year fell 2.2 per cent, while its total shareholder return was a negative 2.3 per cent for period. An earlier version of this article incorrectly indicated the figure for NPV. A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Hope Technik.