Temasek reveals surprise departure of Goodyear

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Temasek, the Singaporean state investment company, shocked the world of sovereign wealth funds yesterday when it revealed that Charles "Chip" Goodyear would not become its new chief executive in the autumn.

Mr Goodyear, the former chief executive of the mining giant BHP Billiton, joined Temasek's board on 1 March as an executive director and chief executive designate, and was scheduled to lead the fund from 1 October.

Founded in 1973, Temasek said that the board and Mr Goodyear have "concluded and accepted there are differences regarding certain strategic issues that could not be resolved". While Temasek raised eyebrows when it hired Mr Goodyear, who will leave on 15 August, as he was the first Anglo-Saxon to lead the company, his departure is considered even more unusual given the conservative nature of such funds.

Market sources have long speculated about how much autonomy Mr Goodyear would have been granted to drive change at the fund, given that Temasek has stakes in many of Singapore's leading companies, including Singapore Airlines. Temasek also owns 19 per cent of Standard Chartered bank, as well as stakes in Bank of China and China Construction Bank. But it has taken a hit during the financial crisis, such as on its investments in banks Merrill Lynch and Barclays.

According to the data specialist Dealogic, the value of cross-border acquisitions by sovereign wealth funds globally nearly halved from $12.6bn in the second-quarter of 2008 to $6.96bn in the same period this year.

In taking the helm, Mr Goodyear had been expected to change the tack of the group's strategy away from financials towards investments in natural resource companies. He was set to replace Ho Ching, the current chief executive and wife of Singapore's prime minister. Ms Ho Ching said: "In the short time with us, Chip has started a number of initiatives which I believe will help strengthen the Temasek platform. I am sorry he is unable to continue with the leadership transition, and hope to complete the initiatives that he has started."