Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the Singapore government, has opened a new office in India, where around 7% of its S$185 billion ($134 billion) portfolio was invested as of March 2008.

Temasek Holdings Advisors India has expanded its operations with the launch of its Chennai office. While Temasek enjoys a strong presence in the northern and western parts of the country, the Chennai office represents a strategic geographical diversification to focus on the large south India market. Temasek set up its operations in India in 2004 with the establishment of its Mumbai office.

Manish Kejriwal, senior managing director and country head of Temasek Holdings Advisors India, says the country remains a key investment target in Asia.

"We believe that in the current scenario, with prevailing capital scarcity, private equity investments are likely to play a pivotal role in global economic recovery," Kejriwal says. "We already have a strong and diverse portfolio of investments but we believe the south presents a large growth market with a substantial investment potential. Chennai, being the economic hub of the south provides the ideal base for us to launch our southern operations."

R. Venkatesh, director of Temasek Holdings Advisors India, heads the Chennai office.

Venkatesh says the south India market will give Temasek exposure to strong business families "with a history of credibility".

"This fits our approach of patient long-term investment to create deep value and maximise returns," he says.

Venkatesh notes that GDP growth in south India is higher than the national average with the manufacturing, infrastructure and consumer sectors performing strongly. Those sectors, he says, would be Temasek's key focus areas.

The presence in Chennai will also allow Temasek to build relationships and grassroots understanding of the other major southern markets like Bangalore and Hyderabad, he says, adding the plan is to develop a team that will seamlessly integrate with the India operations.

A significant portion of Temasek's portfolio is still invested in Singapore, although the percentage declined to 33% in March 2008 from 38% in March 2007 as the firm ventured into more markets outside the city-state.

Temasek's portfolio of companies covers nine major sectors: financial services; telecommunications and media; transportation and logistics; real estate; infrastructure, industrial and engineering; energy and resources; technology; life sciences; and consumer and lifestyle.