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BY CNA team - November 26, 2018

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Temasek sets up new groups to explore blockchain, AI

Temasek seeks new opportunities in blockchain and AI technologies
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Singapore’s Temasek Holdings is exploring how blockchain technology, which underpins cryptocurrencies, may be an important future growth factor.

A memo seen by Bloomberg showed that the state investment firm has set up new groups to explore opportunities in artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies.

Temasek International’s COO Chia Song Hwee will oversee these “experimental pods”, created to explore technologies seen by the firm as long-term trends impacting multiple industries and geographies.

He will work with Lee Theng Kiat, Temasek International’s deputy chairman and CEO as well as deputy CEO Dilhan Pillay as the firm’s collective leadership for these technologies.

A Temasek official confirmed to the news wire the contents of the memo, which also set out the creation of a strategic initiatives unit with greater agility in seeking out deals requiring fast turnaround and senior-level assessment.

“We have been expanding our business coverage and geographic footprint over the past few years,” the official tells Bloomberg.

“As our operating environment evolves, our focus is on remaining nimble and well-positioned to capture opportunities that deliver sustainable value over the long term”.

The unit, which can pull in resources from other parts of the firm, will be led by Tan Chong Lee, who heads Temasek’s operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa as well as Southeast Asia.

The changes took effect on Oct 1 at the firm, which manages US$224bil in assets on behalf of the government.

The memo revealed that Temasek is seeking a more collaborative approach due to a more competitive and complex investment landscape, utilising capabilities wider than the firm’s traditional sector and market team approach.

Temasek is no stranger to investing in these technologies despite only now forming groups to study these technologies.

It is an investor in R3, a New York-based enterprise blockchain software firm with an ecosystem of more than 200 members and partners across various industries.

Temasek was also an investor in the Series C funding round for China’s SenseTime Group, the world’s most valuable AI startup and led the Series a round in June for London-based Eigen Technologies, which automates the extraction of unstructured data.

Temasek has identified the Americas, China, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, India and Southeast Asia as “investment markets” where the firm is actively doing deals and allocating capital.

It sees Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand as “engagement markets” where the focus will primarily be on institutional network building.

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