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16 May 2017, 10:24 | Frank Carlson
"GIC made the UBS sale despite the loss because conditions have changed fundamentally since GIC invested in UBS in February 2008, as have UBS' strategy and business", Lim Chow Kiat, chief executive of GIC, said in a statement issued yesterday.
GIC is selling 93 million shares through an accelerated bookbuilding to institutional investors.
UBS Investment Bank is acting as placement agent on the sale. This effectively means that the GIC had already lowered its stake: in 2014, Singapore owned 7.07 percent of the Swiss bank, but a minimal drop in shares would not be required to be publicly disclosed. GIC said it previously owned 5.1 percent of the Swiss bank's shares and that it will now own 2.7 percent.
Following the investment, former Singapore Prime Minister and GIC Chairman Lee Kuan Yew conceded in an interview in 2009 that GIC was "too early" in buying banks.
UBS and other global banks received massive capital injections from various investors such as GIC as they reeled from the financial crisis sparked by the collapse of the USA housing market.
The Singapore sovereign wealth fund said on Tuesday that the global financial crisis provided the opportunity to invest in both UBS and Citibank, as it "offered a rare chance to take major stakes in the worldwide sector".
According to the statement, GIC said it is "disappointed" that it lost money on the investment.
UBS shares were marked around 1% lower at Sfr16.66 each, compared to a 0.65% gain for the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index and a 0.68% gain for domestic rival Credit Suisse Group (CS).
At the closing price, 93 million shares would be worth 1.54 billion Swiss francs (RM6.68 billion).
Singapore took a 9 per cent stake in UBS in 2007 via an emergency capital injection when UBS unveiled US$10 billion worth of subprime writedowns.
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