Temasek, Singapore’s state-owned investment company, has hired Jonathan Popper as it continues to build the mergers and acquisitions unit it set up a year ago.
Popper heads Morgan Stanley’s Southeast Asia M&A business and will join Temasek within the next few months, according to sources. A spokesman for Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong said on Friday that Popper will be leaving the firm, but would not confirm that he would be moving to Singapore’s second-biggest sovereign fund. He remains on the Morgan Stanley payroll until his notice period ends.
Popper joined the US bank in 2001, and in his current position reports to Sam Kim, head of Asia M&A. Most recently, he was advising Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi on his bid battle with Overseas Union Enterprise for the Singapore property and beverages group Fraser & Neave.
Temasek, which had S$198 billion ($160 billion) of assets as of March 31, 2012, is examining investment opportunities in Europe and North America, according to a statement it made last June. Its allocation to Singapore amounts to 30% of its assets under management and an additional 42% is allocated elsewhere in Asia; only about 11% is allocated to Europe and North America.
To identify opportunities and improve expertise, Temasek has hired other senior investment bankers in recent months, including Boon Sim, who was global head of M&A at Credit Suisse, as president of North America; Tan Chong Lee, ex-head of corporate and investment banking in Southeast Asia at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and now Temasek’s chief investment officer; and John Cryan, former chief financial officer at UBS to head its European business.
News of Popper’s departure from Morgan Stanley came a day after the US bank said it plans to axe 1,600 jobs in its institutional securities group, which includes its M&A division. Paul Taubman, who ran the group jointly with Colm Kelleher, resigned last year. His main focus had been M&A, while Kelleher concentrated on trading operations.
The latest announced reductions followed the 4,000 cutbacks made by the bank last year.