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INSIDE INSIGHTS

Buybacks surge to S$40m while director acquisitions climb to 20

FOR the five trading sessions spanning Feb 21 to 27, the Straits Times Index (STI) declined 2.7 per cent with the Nikkei 225 Index, Hang Seng Index and S&P/ASX 200 Index averaging a 6.9 per cent decline.

This has brought the STI's decline in total return for 2020 through to Feb 20 to 3.3 per cent, following its 9.4 per cent total return in 2019.

Share buybacks

There were 15 primary-listed stocks conducting share buybacks over the five sessions ended Feb 27 with a total consideration of S$40.2 million, significantly higher than the S$7.9 million in consideration for the preceding week.

DBS Group Holdings, OCBC, StarHub, Keppel Corporation and Silverlake Axis led the consideration tally.

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Director and substantial shareholder transactions

The five sessions spanning Feb 21 to 27 again saw 90 changes in director interests and substantial shareholdings filed for close to 40 primary-listed stocks.

There were 20 company director acquisitions and no disposals filed, with substantial shareholders making nine acquisitions and five disposals.

Sing Holdings

Between Feb 20 and 21, Sing Holdings' Lee Sze Hao increased his deemed interest in the listed company on the back of an acquisition of 570,000 shares at S$0.405 per share by his wife, Susan Soh Shin Yann. This increased Mr Lee's total interest in Sing Holdings from 39.86 per cent to 40.01 per cent.

Lian Beng Group

Between Feb 20 and 24, Ong Sek Chong & Sons Pte Ltd acquired 200,000 shares of Lian Beng Group. The consideration of the acquisitions was S$100,000 at an average price of S$0.50 per share.

This took the total interest of Ong Sek Chong & Sons Pte Ltd in the homegrown construction group from 30.08 per cent to 30.12 per cent. This total interest has gradually increased from 29.62 per cent on Aug 1, 2019.

Lian Beng Group chairman and managing director, Ong Pang Aik, and Ms Ong Lay Huan maintain deemed interests in Ong Sek Chong & Sons Pte Ltd.

As at Feb 24, Mr Ong maintained a 35.79 per cent total interest in Lian Beng Group, with Ms Ong maintaining a total interest of 33.33 per cent.

Roxy-Pacific Holdings

Between Feb 21 and 24, Roxy-Pacific Holdings executive director and deputy CEO Koh Seng Geok acquired 178,000 shares of the listed company for a consideration of S$66,080.

At an average price of S$0.371 per share, this increased Mr Koh's total interest in Roxy-Pacific Holdings from 0.54 per cent to 0.55 per cent.

Prior to Mr Koh's deputy CEO appointment on March 23, 2018, he served as chief financial officer, managing the financial, banking, accounting and legal aspects of the group.

Mr Koh supports the executive chairman and CEO in the formulation of corporate strategies and the future direction of the group.

iFAST Corporation

Between Feb 21 and 24, iFAST Corporation chairman and CEO Lim Chung Chun acquired 50,000 shares of the listed company for a consideration of S$52,681. At an average price of S$1.054 per share, the acquisition took his total interest in iFAST Corporation from 22.312 per cent to 22.331 per cent.

Mr Lim's preceding acquisitions of iFAST Corporation shares included 54,300 shares on Dec 23 at S$1.039 per share and between Dec 11 and 12, with 59,800 shares acquired at S$1.029 per share.

Mr Lim is also the co-founder of iFAST Corporation and is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the group together with the board, overseeing the entire overall management of the group.

From 1991 to 1998, Mr Lim was an investment analyst with two securities companies in Singapore and eventually rose to become the head of research at ING Barings Securities Pte Ltd.

Mr Lim also co-founded Fundsupermart.com Pte Ltd in 2000.

Hwa Hong Corporation

On Feb 21, Hwa Hong Corporation (Hwa Hong) substantial shareholder David Ong Eng Hui increased his direct stake in Hwa Hong from 6.013 per cent to 6.031 per cent.

Dr Ong acquired 117,600 shares of the property rental investor and developer for a consideration of S$39,596 at an average price of S$0.337 per share.

Dr Ong has gradually increased his total interest in Hwa Hong from 5.316 per cent at the end of 2018. The acquisition also increased the deemed and hence total Hwa Hong interest of his father, Steven Ong Kay Eng, to 15.918 per cent.

Nordic Group

On Feb 24, Nordic Group executive chairman Chang Yeh Hong acquired 136,100 shares of the listed company for a consideration of S$38,380. At an average share price of S$0.282 per share, this increased his total interest in Nordic Group from 55.57 per cent to 55.61 per cent.

His preceding acquisition was back on Feb 27, 2019, with 58,000 shares acquired at an average price of S$0.36 per share.

Mr Chang is responsible for the reviewing of business plans, strategic positioning and business expansion of the group. He has over 18 years of experience in the banking industry.

Vibrant Group

On Feb 20, Vibrant Group executive director and CEO Eric Khua Kian Keong acquired 216,000 shares of the listed company for a consideration of S$25,488 at S$0.118 per share. This increased his interest in the integrated logistics services provider from 61.39 per cent to 61.42 per cent.

Mr Khua has been the CEO of Vibrant Group (formerly known as Freight Links Express Holdings) since Nov 2003. He is also an alternate director of Freight Management Holdings Berhad, an associated company listed on Bursa Malaysia.

Shinvest Holding

On Feb 25, Shinvest Holding independent director Chau Sik Ting acquired 5,000 shares of Shinvest Holding for a consideration of S$16,200 at an average price of S$3.24 per share. This took Dr Chau's direct interest in the listed company from 0.376 per cent to 0.392 per cent.

His preceding acquisitions, between Aug 23 and 30, involved 13,400 shares at an average price of S$1.808 per share. He has gradually built his total interest in Shinvest from 0.084 per cent prior to Feb 20, 2019.

Dr Chau serves as the medical advisor to SembCorp Marine and is an accredited specialist in occupational medicine with Singapore's Ministry of Health.

  • The writer is the market strategist at Singapore Exchange (SGX). To read SGX's market research reports, visit sgx.com/research.

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