Singapore’s Investment In Africa Marks Change in Trends

Singapore’s Investment In Africa Marks Change in Trends

Large investments in Africa are likely to catch on among foreign sovereign funds in coming years after a $1.3 billion investment by Temasek, one of Singapore’s two sovereign wealth funds, into a liquefied natural gas (LNG) block in Tanzania last week.

Temasek bought the 20 percent stake in three East African LNG blocks from the UK’s Ophir Energy. There are two angles to the deal that are striking: one, where it is, and two, the type of energy it is pursuing, Chris Wright a contributor at Forbes said.

Temasek started out largely as a vehicle for the state stakes in big entities like DBS bank, Singapore Telecommunications and Singapore Airlines once those companies were listed on the local stock exchange. Then, it steadily became more international, including stakes in a number of western businesses.

In the mid-2000’s, it made a directional shift to focus on what it knew best: companies in emerging markets.

The importance of this change of direction was underpinned by Singapore’s disastrous investments in western banks during the global financial crisis – buying on the way down, selling at the bottom.

The only 20 percent allocation to the developed world is the lowest of any publicly disclosed figure by a major sovereign wealth fund, but perhaps the more interesting point has been to look at this “other” bit.

In theory, this could be Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe or Africa. For many years, in practice it has chiefly meant Latin America.  But this investment in the Tanzania LNG blocks is interesting because it shows a considerable commitment to Africa, something that we have seen much more of from China than Singapore in the last 10 years.

The deal also illustrates the much-talked about idea of South-South trade, or investment patterns in between emerging markets around the world.