I refer to BT article, “Temasek putting NOL up for sale: WSJ” dated 16 July.
NOL was destined to fail after PAP had appointed ex army general Ng Yat Chung CEO in 2011. Ng was an SAF scholar who had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-General from 1979 to 2007. After leaving the army, he was parachuted into Temasek Holdings with ZERO relevant experience in fund management/holding company.
Temasek is the major shareholder of NOL and Ng was appointed CEO after leaving Temasek, again with ZERO relevant experience.
PAP’s folly in anyhow appointing scholars as CEOs will cost taxpayers billion$ and Ng won’t be the last. If all PAP scholars could be successful in business, all our paper generals should venture out into the REAL world instead of hiding inside taxpayer-funded GLCs. It appears they are only book smart.
NOL has been making losses for the last 4 years despite Ng’s ‘efforts’ to steer it to profitability. The obvious question – who would want to buy a loss-making company? Does Temasek intend to sell NOL in a second Great Singapore Sale?
When Ng announced NOL intended to sell its profitable logistics arm 4 months earlier, he also said “This is a strategic move that will allow us to focus on improving our liner shipping business, while at the same time enabling APL Logistics to grow”. (whatever happens to APL after its sale is actually none of Ng’s business, NOL just needed the cash)
Why the sudden change of mind after 4 months? This gives the impression that scholars are not only useless but quitters as well.
PAP has always prided itself for having the best brains in government/government’s businesses. May I suggest a brainstorming session comprising 50 to 100 scholars be convened by PAP. It is impossible not to find a solution to turn NOL around, no? PAP must prove to the people that they are not quitters or paper generals will forever be viewed in a very negative light.
Another suggestion – rope in ex PM Goh who was instrumental in helping NOL earned “its first profit in 1975” as its Managing Director. Unlike scholar Ng, Goh was in the shipping industry from 1969 to 1977 and his vast experience should help nurse his ‘sick baby’ back to health.
– Why has NOL failed despite having the full support of the PAP government and after billions of tax dollars thrown at its rights issues?
– Since 1968, what isthe total amount of public resources consumed by NOL?
Should Temasek simply quit NOL? The answer is ‘no’ because the shipping industry is one of the most cyclical in nature and will not stay down forever.
Like NOL, Maersk also made a loss ($550 million) in 2011. But unlike NOL which continued making losses in 2014, Maersk made a $2,341 million profit in 2014. This is $831 million more than it had made a year earlier.
If other similar companies could be profitable, what went wrong with NOL?
The failure of NOL, a GLC, is unprecedented. NOL is run by one of PAP’s scholar with the full support of the PAP government and Temasek Holdings as its major shareholder since 1974. NOL’s epic failure should not be taken lightly.
NOL cannot be treated like shares of a foreign company which can be easily bought or sold by Temasek.
It appears that those in NOL/Temasek are either incompetent or quitters, fleeing at the first signs of trouble.