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Temasek hires Merrill SE Asia investment bank head

First Posted: 09/05/11 09:32 PM ET Updated: 11/05/11 06:12 AM ET

By Saeed Azhar and Daniel Stanton

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's Temasek Holdings <TEM.UL> has hired a senior Bank of America-Merrill Lynch <BAC.N> investment banker, part of a reshuffling of the top dealmaking team at the state investor.

Tan Chong Lee, BofA-Merrill Lynch's Southeast Asia head of corporate and investment banking, was hired for the post of senior managing director and CIO-designate, sources with direct knowledge of the move told Reuters.

A spokesman for Temasek, which manages about $160 billion, confirmed his appointment, but did not provide details of the role. A Merrill Lynch spokesman in Singapore declined to comment.

Tan's hiring comes after senior Temasek MD Charles Ong joined his brother Richard Ong to advise on his $2.3 billion private equity firm RRJ Capital. Temasek, Singapore's second-largest sovereign wealth fund and the world's 10th largest, is one of the investors in the firm.

Another senior MD Jimmy Phoon also moved to Temasek-owned absolute-return fund Seatown Holdings last month.

Tan, who has also worked at Goldman Sachs <GS.N>, would be sharing his CIO role with Tow Heng Tan, sources said.

The changes are seen by many as a shifting of power at the top of Temasek, which is headed by Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The investment firm has hired Greg Curl, who was once seen as a CEO candidate for Bank of America <BAC.N>, brought in ex-Singapore Exchange <SGXL.SI> CEO Hsieh Fu Hua as executive director and president, and hired former top lawyer Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara as head of portfolio management.

Ho, who joined Temasek in 2002, recently told staff that she was not quitting after a newspaper report said she would leave in August. She had planned to leave in 2009 when Temasek named former BHP Billiton <BHP.AX> Chief Executive Charles Goodyear as her designated successor, but Goodyear ultimately did not take up the post, citing strategic differences.

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Daniel Stanton)

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Filed by Reuters  |