Temasek Holdings’ investment assets grew at a slower pace in the year to March, weighed down by weakness in Asia, as it opened offices in London and New York to help diversify its portfolio.

The assets of the Singapore state investment company increased by 3.7% to a record SGD223bn (€132bn).

However, the growth is less than half of last year’s gain of 8.6%.

The top three countries represented in Temasek’s portfolio are Singapore, China and Australia at 31%, 25% and 10%, respectively, as at 31 March, according to its annual review. Exposure to North America and Europe grew to over 14%, up from 12% the previous year.

Chairman Lim Boon Heng said: “This year has been one of our most active years for new investments – the most active since the global financial crisis – driven by softer Asian markets of interest, as well as the continued recovery of the global economy.”

New investments last year totaled SGD24bn, half of which was in Asia where lower asset prices offered attractive investment opportunities, and two-fifths in Europe and North America.

Temasek said divestments amounted to SGD10bn, giving a net investment amount of SGD14bn – double the average annual net investment level of about SGD7bn, over the past 10 years.

The top three sectors for investments during the year were financial services, life sciences and energy.

Towards the end of the year, the company stepped up its investment activities in the consumer sector.

Investments in the financial services sector included an increase in its holdings in AIA to over 3.5%, as well as a growth in its stake in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) to 8.9% of its H-shares (equivalent to 2.2% of total ICBC outstanding shares). 

The company also bought a 1.1% interest in Lloyds Banking Group, the largest domestic UK bank by assets.

In the life sciences sector, Temasek invested almost $1bn (€735m) in Gilead Sciences, a major developer of treatments for cancer, HIV and other infectious diseases; and $500m in Thermo Fisher Scientific, a provider of laboratory equipment and consumables.

In energy, Temasek invested £235m (€296m) in the BG Group and about SGD2bn in Pavilion Energy, which focuses on LNG sourcing, supply and solutions.

Consumer sector investments concluded since the financial year-end include a 24.95% purchase of A S Watson from Hutchison Whampoa for $5.7bn in April 2014.

Among its divestments were its stake in Bharti Telecom and Seoul Semiconductor, Tiger Airways, Cheniere Energy and Youku-Tudou. Divestments were reduced to SGD10bn from SGD13bn a year earlier.