Temasek International (TI), the management arm of Singapore state investment company Temasek, has promoted one of its three presidents to chief executive.

The role was previously held by Ho Ching, wife of Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. She has been on sabbatical leave since the end of March and is not expected to return to work before the end of October, according to Temasek.

Lee Theng Kiat took up the CEO post on October 1. He is in charge of day-to-day investment operations and oversees the company's commercial strategies and portfolio. He will relinquish his role as president of Temasek International.

Lee wil oversee Temasek's commercial strategies and portfolio, and build up the management and operational capabilities at TI to support the next phase of Temasek's development.

He joined Temasek in 2012, before which he was president and CEO of ST Telemedia and held various senior positions at Singapore Technologies.

When Ho returns, she will assume the role of chairman of TI and remain CEO of Temasek Holdings. She will stay on Temasek's board, chaired by former cabinet minister Lim Boon Heng, as an executive director. 
 
Ho's break from her role coincided with the death of her father in law and former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and came two months after her husband had cancer surgery. During this period, Lee Theng Kiat oversaw all normal business at Temasek.

The fund, which had $122.5 billion in AUM as of March 31, has expanded geographically under Ho’s watch, opening offices in London and New York last year.

However, her tenure has not been without controversy, particularly with regard to losses on the firm’s investments in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. Moreover, a succession plan for Ho to pass control to a new CEO, former BHP Billiton CEO Charles ‘Chip’ Goodyear, collapsed, as reported. It is thought that Goodyear had found it impossible to implement his desired management and portfolio changes, allegedly owing to interference from Ho.

Temasek reported a 19% return to shareholders for the year to March 31, driven by the investment team’s ability to capitalise on shorter-term liquidity-driven rallies in key markets. That compares with a three-year average of 9.62% and 10-year and 20-year returns of 9% and 7% respectively.