Friday, May 29, 2009

TOC, Wayangparty have got it wrong here

2 major alternative commentary websites in Singapore's blogosphere, TOC and, have come out with their guns blazing and heavily criticising the government's proposed changes to Parliament.

Andrew Loh calls it a "A mockery of Parliament" because of the huge number of "loser MPs", "nominated MPs", and "walkover MPs." He says,

"Parliament being filled with a majority of un-elected members is a joke. Pure and simple, no matter what rhetoric the prime minister uses in trying to convince one and all to accept these changes."

Much as I have been a govt critic in the past, I think the changes announced by Lee Hsien Loong are actually a positive step forward for Singapore as a whole, and that TOC and Wayangparty have got it wrong this time. And much as I think I am going to receive major flak for my comments here, I feel it is necessary to make my case public.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wiffle Waffle, Gobbledygook, Smokescreens and Nonsense!!!

Warning: This post contains several expletives. Readers who are offended by strong language are advised to proceed cautiously.

Myrna Thomas of Temasek has written to the press to "explain" the BoA divestment. Her press statement not only does not clarify anything, it only insults the intelligence of Singaporeans by repeating the same truisms and smokescreens that Temasek has been saying time and time again.
Why Temasek sold its stake in BoA

I REFER to recent reports and commentaries on Temasek's divestment of its Bank of America (BoA) stake. We would like to clarify some of the points raised.

Temasek invests with the objective of delivering sustainable returns over the long term. This means our investment strategy is not aimed at delivering target returns on a year-by-year basis. This is why we report our portfolio returns not just for a single year, but for various time horizons in our annual Temasek Review.

What the F*cK does this have to do with the BoA issue? You donks have been repeating this nonsense year in year out ad nauseum - it does not give us any information at all, it does not tell us anything - its completely useless statements that achieves nothing!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This is Becoming Hilarious - and Shameful!!

Forget about Investing for the "Long Term" - Temasek's new investment strategy has changed into "Buy High, Sell Low!!!"

What else could you possibly deduce from the fact that Bank of America's shares have surged 74% since our dear Ho Ching & company decided to divest of their BoA shares? This fact has been graciously pointed out to us by the New York Times - article appended below.

The world is watching our dear Singaporean SWF. And Temasek is becoming the laughing stock of the world financial community.

A commenter on the NYT blog has said:
Regarding Temasek’s decision to sell BofA shares near the low - perhaps sovereign wealth fund managers are really just government bureaucrats masquerading as fund managers? If anyone is going to take a loss on an investment - I’m glad it’s them.

— Posted by Jay Young

Earlier, David Faber of CNBC noted that Temasek's loss was one of the biggest losses ever recorded by a single fund on a single investment in Wall Street's history.

I'm not sure I want to be a Singaporean anymore.

New York Times - Dealbook

MAY 18, 2009, 11:13 AM
Wall Street Warms Up to Bank of America

Kenneth D. Lewis may have gotten a rebuke from shareholders last month, but he was getting votes of confidence from Wall Street on Monday. Upbeat assessments from analysts at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs lit a fire under shares of Bank of America, the banking giant where he is chief executive — and was chairman until a few weeks ago, when shareholders voted to remove him from that latter post.

At first glance, the enthusiasm might seem to come at a strange time. Banking regulators just told BofA to raise nearly $34 billion, suggesting it was the most anemic of the 19 financial institutions that endured the government’s stress tests.

But some analysts think Bank of America’s efforts to raise the capital are proceeding well. If that overhang clears up, it could ease the pressure that has been weighing on the company’s stock price.

Analysts at Goldman raised BofA from neutral to buy and added the company to their so-called conviction list of recommended stocks. Analysts at Citigroup kept a buy rating on the shares, but had positive things to say about the integration of BofA and Countrywide, the troubled mortgage lender it recently bought, as well as its capital-raising plans.

BofA is using “at-the-market” stock sales to raise a large part of its additional capital cushion. That means the shares are quietly dribbling out in unknown quantities. Reading the tea leaves — and watching the volume of BofA stock trades — analysts at Citi, led by Keith Horowitz, estimate it has already raised $3 billion to $4 billion from selling new stock.

In addition, Bank of America raised an estimate $4 billion after taxes from the recent sale of part of its stake in China Construction Bank.

The biggest unknown appears to lie in BofA’s plan to convert about $16 billion in institutionally held preferred stock into common. If BofA can offer a price that is above the equivalent price of the common shares, it will minimize the dilution for current shareholders, the analysts said.

The analysts’ comments may be gratifying to Mr. Lewis, who endured some heated attacks at last month’s meeting from shareholders who lost money.

But Temasek, the investment arm of Singapore, could be feeling a bit of seller’s remorse. The fund recently reported selling its entire stake in BofA — at an enormous loss, by all accounts — some time before March 31. Since then, BofA’s stock is up about 74 percent.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dr Lee Boon Yang and Keppel Corp - The Curious Intertwining of Singapore's Business and Politics

Rear Admiral (NS) Lui Tuck Yew was the Minister of State for Education until March 2009, when he was promoted to Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts with effect from 1st April 2009. With his promotion, he displaced the incumbent Dr Lee Boon Yang, who now found himself without a job.

Only 25 days after RAdm Lui's promotion, Dr Lee Boon Yang was the newly appointed non-executive Chairman of Keppel Corp, Singapore's largest industrial conglomerate. It was an event of little fanfare, and by the lack of any noise made by Keppel shareholders, you would have thought that everybody is happy about the change in leadership at the helm of Keppel's board of directors.

However, a careful examination of Dr Lee Boon Yang's CV, and the demands of the role of Chairman of the Board of an industrial conglomerate like Keppel - leaves the interested observer rather puzzled.

Temasek’s divestment of BoA stake – A clear admission of an investment error

"Yes, they were good long term investments with risks thoroughly assessed"

- Minister Tharman, Jan 2008 on Singapore investments in banks.

These were the words of Singapore's Minister of Finance, slightly more than a year ago when Singapore's SWFs made major investments in a few global financial institutions. Take note, in particular, that Minister Tharman was defending the individual investments made by the SWFs in the banks - not the portfolio performance.

A year later, everything had changed. The stock markets had declined significantly and the global financial system was in major turmoil. The stock prices of the big banks had sunk to record lows after having their balance sheets destroyed by the dislocation in credit markets. Seeing that his original argument was no longer tenable, Tharman changed his tack as the investments in the banks sunk deeper and deeper into the red. Now, instead of taking the line that the investments in the banks were good long term investments, he instead argued that Singapore's portfolios were well diversified, and hence Singapore's investments were fine.
'We would be worried if global banks comprise a large proportion of the portfolios of GIC and Temasek, or for that matter, any other highly vulnerable industry globally,' he said. 'But these are diversified portfolios, with not a large degree of concentration risk.'

- Minister Tharman, Jan 2009, on Singapore investments in banks.