Published November 02, 2012

Richard Hu to retire from GIC board

By Lee Meixian

RICHARD Hu Tsu Tau, 86, will retire from the board of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) on Nov 30.

A board member for 31 years since the 1981 inception of the state's sovereign fund, the then-chairman and chief executive of the Shell group of companies was the first private-sector individual to join the board, paving the way for more such appointments.

GIC also announced yesterday the appointment of three individuals from the private sector to the board. They are Hsieh Fu Hua, Loh Boon Chye and Gautam Banerjee.

Dr Hu's association with the management of Singapore's reserves actually began a decade before he joined its board - in 1971, when he was appointed to the inaugural board of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Between July 1983 and December 1984, he was managing director of both MAS and GIC; he was then succeeding the first GIC managing director, Yong Pung How.

In December 1984, Dr Hu stepped down as managing director of both organisations to stand for election. He was elected to Parliament and appointed Minister for Finance, a Cabinet position he held until 2001.

He was also the founding chairman of GIC Real Estate, the real estate arm of GIC, from 1999, when it was corporatised as a separate entity.

GIC said: "Over the 10 years till 2009, under Dr Hu's stewardship, the real estate group developed from a department investing mainly in US office properties to one of the most globally diversified real estate investors in the world."

Group president of GIC Lim Siong Guan said: "GIC has benefited tremendously from his keen insight, his steady hand and his ready help, which has enabled GIC to hone its investment skills, as well as to develop its perspectives and leadership."

In a three-page letter of appreciation to Dr Hu, Prime Minister and GIC chairman Lee Hsien Loong thanked Dr Hu for his leadership from the time when GIC was still a fledging company:

"Despite the testing circumstances, under your leadership, GIC progressed. Its portfolio grew. Staff strength rose."

He also noted that Dr Hu had played a key role as the point person linking the GIC board and management when he was Minister for Finance, fostering a healthy dialogue between the two to enable GIC to "weather successive external financial crises and take advantage of many investment opportunities over the years".

He added: "To a man, (those who have known and worked with you) recall your crisp but fair interventions, your openness to fresh suggestions, your willingness to support their good ideas, your trust in their judgment and, not least, your humility and lack of pretension."

He signed off with a handwritten "Thank you once again for all you have done for GIC. I wish you a long and contented retirement."

Among the three corporate heavyweights newly appointed to the board, Mr Hsieh is now adviser to PrimePartners Group, a financial services group he co-founded. He is also a director of UOB Ltd and Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd, as well as president of the National Council of Social Services.

From 2003 to 2009, he was CEO and a director of the Singapore Exchange.

Mr Loh will be deputy president for the Asia-Pacific at Bank of America Merrill Lynch from next month, having previously spent 17 years with Deutsche Bank, where his last position was that of head of Corporate & Investment Bank for the Asia-Pacific.

Prior to Deutsche Bank, he worked at Morgan Guaranty Trust and MAS.

Mr Banerjee is executive chairman of accounting industry major PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore, from which he is due to retire on Dec 31.

He is also vice-chairman of the Singapore Business Federation and a board member of the Economic Development Board, the Apec Business Advisory Council and the Yale-NUS College.

On Jan 1, he joins the board of Singapore Airlines as a non-executive independent director.

The GIC appointments of Mr Hsieh and Mr Loh took effect yesterday, while that of Mr Banerjee will start on Jan 1.