Temasek doubles investments, ups diligence as valuations reset

Ravi Lambah and Mohit Bhandari.
Ravi Lambah and Mohit Bhandari.


Over the past 15 months, the Singapore state investor committed nearly $4 billion in capital, including its stake in Manipal Healthcare Enterprises. It expects to deploy $9-10 billion within the next three years, the executives said.

Mumbai: Temasek Holdings Pvt. Ltd has doubled its pace of investments in India, amid the valuation reset in the tech ecosystem, and will increase its focus on due diligence and scrutiny for potential investment opportunities, senior executives Ravi Lambah and Mohit Bhandari said in an interview.

Over the past 15 months, the Singapore state investor committed nearly $4 billion in capital, including its stake in Manipal Healthcare Enterprises. It expects to deploy $9-10 billion within the next three years, the executives said.

In FY23 alone, Temasek has invested around $2 billion in India. “It (pace of investment) was $1 billion a year for many years. We have doubled that in FY23. And we will try to do it every year, if we can find the right opportunities," Lambah, head, investment group and head, India, Temasek, said.

India has everything going right amid the global liquidity crunch, he added. “Obviously, the world is in a difficult place. High interest rates, high inflation in the US and in Europe. We don’t have that problem. Rates are not that high. Inflation is not high, too. We were the fastest growing economy globally last year, and this year as well."

In FY23, Temasek invested in several ventures, including subscription-based food business Country Delight, nutrition and wellness supplements maker Healthkart, credit card platform OneCard and smart appliances maker Atomberg. Temasek also raised its stake in e-commerce services provider Shiprocket, as well as insurance companies HDFC Life and ICICI Prudential Life.

Temasek’s pace of follow-on investments for portfolio firms also increased, as it doubles down on winners, Bhandari, managing director, investment, Temasek in India, said. “Manipal is a follow-on investment. We had an 18% stake six years back. In my view, it is a key reason why we got comfortable with the company. It does add a significant degree of comfort to step in when the opportunity arises." It has also made follow-on investments in Ola Electric, Shiprocket and Country Delight. Temasek’s India portfolio was at $17 billion (MTM value $21 billion) as of 31 March, representing 6% of its global portfolio.

Given the increasing instances of corporate governance lapses at startups in the country, all global investors including Temasek have taken note. The firm said it is looking to increase scrutiny and diligence on potential investments.

“Globally, we will be a lot more focused on areas where we may not have been as focused earlier, like third-party diligence. We have been getting third-party diligence for many years, but we will increase our intensity now. Ultimately, we cannot diligence everything, but you can do your best. And despite doing everything, you will still have problems that you did not see," Lambah added.

Investors across the board have seen cracks evolve in portfolio companies over governance the last 12-15 months as the funding downturn has put pressure on growth metrics.

Temasek Holdings was also one of the investors in Zilingo Pte, a Singapore-based fashion retailer, which wound down earlier this year.

“Obviously, we expect all our companies to invest and work with high ethical standards. That’s very important. We expect them to be very focused on governance, because, ultimately, as a financial investor, in many cases, we have a minority stake. We rely on the boards to provide the governance layer," Lambah said.

Companies in India are also going through a valuation reset, the executives said, with those in the path of profitability able to attract a greater amount of capital.

“In the tech sector, when capital was abundantly available, it was ignoring companies focused on profitability and whether there was cash burn or not, capital was going everywhere. Everyone was benefiting. That reset has happened. Companies that don’t have a defined path to profitability will not see capital flow into them," he added.

Temasek is also in the process of investing in Pharmeasy, where there is an ongoing rights issue that values the company at one-tenth of its 2021 valuation of more than $5 billion.

Without speaking about specific portfolio companies, Lambah said that the firm will continue to allocate capital to its portfolio companies where it can help better performance. “If a business has underperformed, if capital will help it go back into the performance quadrant, then yes, we will deploy capital. At what valuation it is done is very case by case. And when we find that it is not a good use of capital (to make a follow-on investment), we will take a different decision, that is how we operate," he added.

Catch all the Corporate news and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.