By Anshuman Daga
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd [TEM.UL] is likely to book a record S$300 billion (166.3 billion pounds) for the value of its portfolio, powered by gains in DBS Group Ltd (DBSM.SI) and Chinese banks, while it steps up investment in tech startups.
At the same time, Temasek is swooping in on opportunistic purchases with its stake buy in Swiss-based airline caterer Gategroup Holding AG, weeks after an announced move to buy into Hainan Airlines Holding Co Ltd <600221.SS>. Both firms are part of China's debt-saddled HNA Group Co Ltd, which has been selling part of its holdings.
Analysts estimate Temasek, the top investor in about a third of companies in Singapore's Straits Times index (.STI), to report a net portfolio value of about S$300 billion for the year ended March 31, up roughly 9 percent versus a nearly 14 percent increase to S$275 billion a year earlier.
Temasek said it will give details of its performance this week.
"Last year was a good year across all asset classes and across the world. A rise in its portfolio value to above S$300 billion is quite doable," said Song Seng Wun, economist at CIMB Private Banking.
Last month, Temasek and GIC Pte Ltd [GIC.UL], Singapore's bigger state fund, featured among main investors in a record-setting $14 billion fundraising by China's Ant Financial Services Group. Temasek also put more money into online Chinese services firm Meituan Dianping last year.
Meanwhile, MSCI's Asia shares ex-Japan index <.MIAPJ0000PUS> advanced 18 percent in the year to March, while Singapore's main index rose 8 percent.
Temasek reports its annual scorecard next week. Under Chief Executive Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, it has become a global investor, ploughing billions of dollars into startups and emerging markets in recent years.
Veljko Fotak, assistant professor of international finance, University at Buffalo in the United States, said that despite Temasek's renewed emphasis on the tech sector, it is "at the same time, keeping its feet well on the ground, investing in real estate and infrastructure worldwide."
Last year, Temasek's Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd bought a portfolio of student accommodation properties in North America worth $1.6 billion, expanding its exposure to the sector.
Analysts see no let-up in Temasek's investments in start-ups, which often attract billion-dollar funding as they race to build up war chests to stay competitive.
"Tech investments this year have been focussed on virtual reality, education tech startups, ride-hailing and fintech startups," said Javier Capape, director of the Sovereign Wealth Lab at IE Business School.
Capape said though more sovereign wealth funds are joining the group of sovereign venture funds, Temasek was still leading in terms of capital deployed and activity.
Temasek also participated in a funding in Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek and led a $502 million investment in Magic Leap Inc, a U.S. startup developing augmented reality tech products.
In the past year, Temasek benefited from a 42 percent surge in shares of DBS, while in Hong Kong, China Construction Bank Corp <0939.HK> and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (1398.HK) rose 29 percent and over 32 percent respectively.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Christopher Cushing)