Tough challenges ahead for incoming GIC chief

The appointment of seasoned investor Lim Chow Kiat as the chief executive officer of GIC comes as the Singapore sovereign wealth fund is facing a slower rate of returns.

And a range of challenges lies ahead for Mr Lim, given the increasing volatility across the world.

"We still don't really know what the fallout from Brexit is going to be like, and we are still speculating about the impact of a Trump presidency on global markets, including Singapore," said CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun.

"In this day and age of increasing volatility and low growth, being able to deal with the uncertainty of the markets is going to be very important," he added.

GIC, in its latest annual review in July, said its 20-year annualised real rate of return was 4 per cent for the financial year ended March 31, down from 4.9 per cent in the year before.

This came as modest global growth prospects and low interest rates weighed on investment yields, Mr Lim said then.

Still, Mr Song said Mr Lim, 46, who was named yesterday as chief executive of GIC with effect from Jan 1 next year, is well placed to lead the sovereign wealth fund.

Mr Lim has been group chief investment officer of GIC since February 2013, and was appointed deputy group president concurrently in June this year.

"A pair of steady, seasoned hands like his will be very well suited for the role," said Mr Song.

Read also: Singapore's GIC inks Europe's biggest real-estate deal of 2016

He noted that Mr Lim has deep knowledge of the market, and that his experience through past financial crises means he will likely be "unfazed by any other shocks".

Mr Lim will take the place of group president Lim Siong Guan, 69, who will retire and take up the role of adviser to the GIC Group executive committee.

"Siong Guan brought to GIC many years of inspiring leadership and a deep sense of service to Singapore.

His work to get GIC future-ready has put us in good stead to deal with the challenges ahead," Mr Lim said in a statement to The Straits Times.

"Our team remains focused on our mission of preserving and enhancing the international purchasing power of the reserves placed in our care. As I take on this bigger role, I will continue to be guided by the values of our pioneers, particularly that of long-termism."

GIC, which holds investments in more than 40 countries, is estimated to be the world's eighth-biggest sovereign wealth fund with US$344 billion (S$489 billion) of assets under management, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

Earlier this month, GIC said it had invested US$136 million to acquire a stake in South Korean retail mall G-Square City Retail Complex.

It also embarked on the largest property deal in Europe to date this year with the €2.4 billion (S$3.6 billion) acquisition of a leading warehouse business, P3 Logistic Parks.

Read also: GIC 'more defensive' in investing stance

New team to helm GIC from Jan 1

Mr Lim Chow Kiat will be appointed as chief executive from Jan 1 next year.

The current deputy group president and group chief investment officer will take over the role of group president Lim Siong Guan, who will retire and be appointed as adviser to the GIC Group executive committee.

Dr Jeffrey Jaensubhakij will take over as group chief investment officer, and relinquish his current role as deputy group chief investment officer and president of public markets.

Mr Lim Kee Chong, who remains deputy group chief investment officer and director of integrated strategies group, will take on the concurrent appointment of president (Americas), based in New York.

Mr Tay Lim Hock will be appointed deputy group chief investment officer and take on the concurrent appointment of president (Europe), based in London.

He will also be adviser to private equity and infrastructure, and relinquish his current role as president of private equity and infrastructure.

Mr Goh Kok Huat continues as chief operating officer, with his concurrent appointment as adviser to real estate.

He will relinquish his current role as president of real estate.

Mr Bryan Yeo King Ming takes over as chief investment officer for public equities, while Ms Liew Tzu Mi will be chief investment officer for fixed income.

Mr Choo Yong Cheen will be chief investment officer for private equity, Mr Ang Eng Seng for infrastructure, and Mr Lee Kok Sun for real estate.

Read also: GIC appoints Lim Chow Kiat as CEO, group president Lim Siong Guan to retire

This article was first published on Nov 19, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.