Singaporean wealth fund has experienced a trio of high-level departures in the past 11 months.
The departures have caught industry attention as it's rare to find former GIC executives in other sovereign wealth funds and pension funds.
“While other career paths are more intuitive and common (e.g., from banking to private equity, from general partner to limited partner), professionals often face the question of “what next?” when they consider leaving a SWF. The answer is usually setting up your own fund, as moving to other sovereign investor may be sensitive (except for the Canadian funds),” said New York-based Diego Lopez, managing director of wealth fund tracker Global SWF.
At least that is what Reuben Abrams, a former portfolio manager at he Singapore sovereign wealth fund did: he is set to launch a hedge fund by year-end in London, according to a note to clients from BNP Paribas and reported by Reuters.
Adira Investment Management will open its doors in the fourth quarter to take long and short bets on corporate credit, the news report said.
Abrams spent over 17 years working at GIC, finally as its lead credit portfolio manager in Europe, according to his LinkedIn profile, which also showed he left the sovereign wealth fund in December 2022.
Head of Sustainability Rachel Teo also left the organisation in late August, after taking on the role in June 2022.
She was head of total portfolio sustainable investing in the economics and investment strategy department as well.
Shang Thong Chie, director of enterprise strategy, will take over as sustainability office in the interim while GIC continues to look for a suitable replacement for Teo, a spokesperson confirmed to AsianInvestor recently. Teo joined GIC in 2005.
Another high-profile departure was that of Kevin Bong, former director of the economics and investment strategy departments and a global leadership managing director at GIC.
He joined Alberta Investment Management Corporation as chief investment strategist, senior managing director and head of Singapore on August 14.
His LinkedIn profile suggests that he left GIC in July.
GIC declined to comment to AsianInvestor on the three departures.
“Reuben’s, Rachel’s and Kevin’s departures have raised some eyebrows because they were highly respected and quite young for managing directors (50, 48 and 40, respectively)," said Lopez.
"However, I think rotation is quite normal and healthy even within the Global Leadership Group (73 managing directors at the moment) and GIC will continue to be one of the most sophisticated, mature and sought-after SWFs for professionals.”
MORE TO COME?
The Singaporean wealth fund is one of the world’s most active investors and is a leading sovereign investor in China as well.
More interestingly, Singapore is turning into a regional hub for sovereign investors, including large pension funds – so the competition for talent could intensify further, according to some industry observers.
It is highly possible that more seasoned professionals at Singaporean asset owners willl be approached by the newer entities setting up shop in the city-state.
AIMCO is the latest Canadian pension fund to open its office in Singapore, while the world’s largest SWF, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, also recently said it would primarily carry out Asia operations from its Singapore office
With the addition of AIMCO, there are at least nine sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds operating in the island nation, excluding the country’s domestic asset owners, according to Global SWF.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, three state-owned investors have announced new offices in Singapore -- Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP), Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and AIMCo, according to Global SWF.
Singapore's gains in attracting more sovereign investors comes as some entities scale back operations in Hong Kong, including OTPP and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board reportedly laying off some of investment professionals in Hong Kong, in a sign that it is stepping back from deals in China.