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Temasek maintains optimism in Thailand's long-term investment allure

Singapore's Temasek Holdings is still confident in the Thai economy for its long-term investments despite the political limbo, a high-ranking executive says.

"The situation in Thailand is obviously complex but what we think about Thailand is that there is a large population and the country is mixed with a large number of investment opportunities. The regulatory political cycle needs some time to resolve [itself]," Stephen Forshaw, managing director for strategic and public affairs at Temasek, told The Nation yesterday.

Forshaw explained that his company was seeking long-term investments in this dynamic region, mainly driven by urbanisation and demand from its growing middle-class population. Urbanisation creates more demand for construction projects, accommodation, consumer goods and infrastructure to cope with the number of people flocking into the cities seeking jobs and prosperity.

Apart from that, people need hygiene and healthcare, so there are opportunities for investment in advanced health treatments and pharmaceutical products. These are the major areas of growth where Temasek sees opportunities in Thailand and elsewhere in the region, he said.

Additionally, Singapore's investment arm still focuses on key high-value sectors such as banking and financial services, telecommunications, media and technology, and transport and industrials. The company also keeps its eye on newly growing areas such as life sciences, consumer products, real estate and energy resources.

Early this year, Temasek Holdings unloaded more than 10 per cent of InTouch, formerly known as Shin Corp, for an estimated gain of Bt20.8 billion and to clear up any questions in Thailand over foreign shareholdings and allow InTouch to expand into new, mainly Thai-owned, businesses.

Temasek controls InTouch via two affiliates, Aspen Holdings and Cedar Holdings. Now Cedar holds only 13.3 per cent of InTouch, while Aspen's holdings remain at 41.62 per cent.

Temasek took over Shin Corp from the Shinawatra family for Bt73 billion in 2006, then raised its stake from 49.6 per cent to more than 96 per cent.


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