Temasek has hired Wu Yibing from China’s Citic Group as a senior managing director and its new head of China – a key role within the firm as China represents the second largest country exposure in its portfolio after Singapore.
The Singapore government-owned investment company said in a release that Wu will replace Ding Wei, who will take on a new role as advisory senior director for China. Ding, who has been head for China since he joined Temasek at the beginning of 2011, has requested to work in an advisory capacity to give him the flexibility to pursue other interests as well, it said.
Wu will join Temasek on October 1 and will work together with Chia Song Hwee, the co-head of China, to “build on the firm’s presence in China as a long-term, active investor in successful enterprises”.
While it seems odd to have one “head of China” and one “co-head” rather than two co-heads, this is in line with Temasek’s best practice across several other divisions. According to a company spokesman the difference in their roles is that the “head” of a geographic division typically is based on the ground, while the co-head is based in Singapore. In this case Wu will be based in Beijing.
However, Wu and Chia will effectively operate as co-heads and both will report to Boon Sim, who is head of the markets group.
Wu, who is 46, is currently the chairman and CEO of Goldstone Investment, which is the direct investment arm of Citic Securities, and since December 2009 he has also been president of Citic Private Equity Funds Management. According to the Temasek release, he has a wide range of investment experience and expertise in the financial, energy, consumer and technology sectors.
In addition to his jobs within the Citic group, Wu is also a non-executive director of Lenovo Group and Singapore-based container shipping and logistics company NOL Group (also known as Neptune Orient Lines), which is 66% owned by Temasek. He also serves on the board of China Social Entrepreneur Foundation.
He started his career with McKinsey, where he rose to become senior partner and head of the Asia-Pacific M&A practice. He was also general manager of McKinsey Beijing, responsible for advising large Chinese enterprises on M&A, corporate restructuring and IPOs. According to the release, he has advised a number of leading Asian companies about their international expansion.
He subsequently joined the Lenovo Group, where he led the acquisition and integration of IBM’s PC business. Wu held a number of titles at Lenovo, including chief strategy officer and integration officer, and was later appointed executive vice president at Lenovo’s parent company, Legend Holdings.
At Legend he was responsible for overall business operations and for overseeing the company’s direct investment business. He successfully led Legend’s equity investments in the financial, energy and consumer sectors and also oversaw a number of growth capital investments in the new energy and high-tech space. This, together with his subsequent role at Citic, should be valuable experience as he takes charge of Temasek’s China portfolio.
As of the end of March this year, China accounted for 23% of Temasek’s total investment portfolio, which is second only to Singapore with 30%. The company's visible equity stakes in China include shares in Ping An Insurance, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Bank of China. Outside the financial sector, it has a stake in Kunlun Energy, a PetroChina-controlled company involved in oil and gas exploration and development as well as the distribution of LNG.
Twelve months ago, Temasek also acquired additional common shares in Alibaba Group, the e-commerce group that is widely expected to go public in the next six months. The investment was made as part of the financing package put together by Alibaba to pay for its buy-back of shares from Yahoo.
Wu’s background with Lenovo may suggest an increased focus by Temasek on investments in high-tech growth companies to balance its current financially heavy China portfolio.
In his new advisory role, Ding Wei will continue to help strengthen the firm’s network and relationships in China and offer perspectives on the country’s macro environment, Temasek said in the release. When he joined Temasek in February 2011 Ding had already spent more than 24 years in international finance, commercial banking and investment banking. His most recent job was as head of investment banking at China International Capital Corp (CICC). Other former employees include the World Bank, the IMF and Deutsche Bank.
As of the end of March this year, Temasek’s investment portfolio was valued at a record S$215 billion ($173 billion), according to its 2013 annual review published in early July. Its portfolio value has more than tripled in the past 10 years from S$61 billion in the fiscal year to March 2003, supported by S$59 billion of net investments.