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INSIDE INSIGHTS

DBS leads buybacks; directors build UOL and Oxley stakes

FOR the 2018 year through to July 12, the Straits Times Index (STI) recorded a 2.7 per cent decline in total return, compared to the Nikkei 225, Hang Seng and S&P/ASX 200 indices averaging a 0.7 per cent gain. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones has gained 4 per cent in SGD terms. For the five trading sessions ended July12, the STI declined 0.1 per cent, with the three regional benchmarks averaging a 1.1 per cent gain.

Share buybacks

Buyback momentum increased over the five sessions ended July 12, with consideration totalling S$54.6 million, up from S$28.4 million the previous week.

Six STI stocks conducted buybacks over the five sessions with DBS Group Holdings (DBS) leading the tally with 854,800 shares bought back for a consideration of S$21.6 million. DBS bought back these shares at prices between S$25.07 and S$25.35 on July 6. Prior to this, its last share buyback was back in September 2016.

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Wing Tai Holdings led the buyback tally for the non-STI stocks with close to 4 million shares bought back with a consideration value of S$7.6 million.

Director and substantial shareholder transactions

The five sessions spanning July 6 to July 12 saw more than 40 primary-listed stocks lodge close to 110 changes in director interests or substantial shareholders' transactions. There were 42 company director acquisitions and one disposal filed, while substantial shareholders filed 15 acquisitions and two disposals.

UOL

On July 6, Wee Investments Pte Limited acquired 6.2 million shares of UOL Group (UOL) for a consideration of S$42.7 million. This was followed with the further acquisition of one million shares on July 10 for a consideration of nearly 6.8 million. This took UOL chairman Wee Cho Yaw's total stake in the stock from 35.848 per cent to 36.703 per cent.

The transaction also saw deputy chairman Wee Ee Lim increase his total interest in UOL to 14.046 per cent and director Wee Ee Chao increase his total interest to 14.052 per cent. In addition, the acquisition by Wee Investments saw substantial shareholder Wee Ee Cheong increase his total stake in the stock.

On July 11, UOL director Low Weng Keong acquired 7,000 shares for a consideration of S$46,200, which increased his stake in the stock to 0.0045 per cent. Mr Low was first appointed to UOL's board in November 2005.

At the end of June, UOL announced that Gwee Lian Kheng will be retiring as group CEO on Jan 31, 2019 after 45 years of service, and will remain a director on the board. UOL also made note of its growth in total assets from about S$749 million in 1987, to nearly S$20 billion as at March 31, 2018.

Oxley

Between July 10 and 12, Oxley Holdings (Oxley) executive chairman and CEO Ching Chiat Kwong acquired 11.17 million shares of Oxley for a consideration of S$3.924 million. This took Mr Ching's total stake in the stock from 41.23 per cent to 41.45 per cent.

Oxley deputy CEO & executive director Eric Low See Ching also acquired almost 3 million shares of the stock for a consideration of S$1,052,803. This increased Mr Low's direct stake in the home-grown property developer to 27.7 per cent. Mr Low is responsible for business development, as well as supporting executive chairman and CEO Mr Ching in the formulation of corporate strategies and future direction of the group.

Oxley now maintains a business presence in 12 geographical markets. Prior to establishing Oxley, Mr Ching invested in, developed and successfully launched 13 residential property projects in various parts of Singapore. Mr Low is also a non-executive director of Hafary Holdings where he previously served as CEO.

Oxley was also active in share buybacks between July 6 and 12, buying back three million shares for a consideration of S$1.04 million.

UOBKH

In addition to increasing his stake in UOL, Wee Ee Chao increased his stake in UOB-Kay Hian Holdings (UOBKH) to 27.52 per cent between and July 5 and 11. Mr Wee serves as UOBKH chairman and managing director.

He acquired a total of 268,000 shares between July 6 and 12 for a consideration of S$340,160, and has gradually increased his total stake in UOBKH from 26.51 per cent at the end of 2017.

UEL

Yanlord Perennial Investment (Singapore) Pte Ltd (YPIL) acquired 260,900 shares of United Engineers Limited (UEL) at an average price of S$2.7195 per share. The consideration of the transactions totalled S$709,526 and took the deemed UEL interest of its executive chairman, Zhong Sheng Jian to 34.29 per cent.

AEM

On July 9, AEM Holdings Ltd (AEM) non-executive and independent director Loh Kin Wah acquired 100,000 shares of AEM for a consideration of S$100,000. This has taken Mr Loh's direct stake in AEM to 0.111 per cent.

Mr Loh was recently appointed to the AEM board on May 4, and has extensive leadership experience in the semiconductor industry, and has held senior positions in finance and asset management.

Silverlake

On July 6, Silverlake Axis (Silverlake) independent non-executive director Ong Kian Min acquired another 200,000 shares of Silverlake Axis for a consideration of S$99,900 taking his stake in the company to 0.045 per cent. Between May 15 and July 6, Mr Ong acquired a total of 600,000 shares of Silverlake.

Mr Ong has more than 25 years of legal practice focused on corporate and commercial law, such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, IPOs and corporate finance. Silverlake provides digital economy solutions and services to major organisations in banking and financial services, payments, retail and logistics businesses.

Boustead Singapore

FMR LLC increased its deemed interest in Boustead Singapore from 9.80 per cent to 9.83 per cent. FMR LLC is deemed to have interests in Boustead Singapore because its securities are held by funds and/or accounts managed by one or more FMR LLC's direct and indirect subsidiaries, which are fund managers. The relevant 125,000 shares were acquired for a consideration of S$97,882.

As highlighted in the FY18 Annual Report released recently, Boustead is Singapore's oldest continuous business and celebrates 190 years of progress this year following its establishment in 1828.

Far East Group

On July 9, Far East Group CEO and executive director Steven Loh Mun Yew acquired 600,000 shares of the stock for a consideration of S$93,000. This took Mr Loh's stake in Far East Group up to 61.49 per cent.

Mr Loh was appointed to the board of Far East Group in 1990. He is responsible for the formulation and execution of the group's business strategies, strategic directions and expansion plans, as well as managing the group's overall business development and financial performance.

In the FY17 Annual Report released in April, Mr Loh reiterated three broad strategies to take the group to the next level: Expanding manufacturing operations and increasing revenue in China; moving up the HVAC&R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) value chain by strengthening capabilities; and developing economies of scale and scalability through the distribution of its "Eden" and third-party products.

Progen

Progen Holdings (Progen) managing director Lee Eng acquired 1.921 million shares of Progen between July 5 and 11. The consideration of the transactions totalled S$118,750 and increased Mr Lee's total stake in Catalist-listed Progen to 49.9612 per cent.

Mr Lee is the founder of the group and was appointed to the board of directors in July 1996 when the company was incorporated. He has more than 40 years of experience in the air-conditioning, refrigeration and climate control industry.

Progen has more than two decades of experience in the design, supply, installation and maintenance of air conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems.

The company has also recently diversified into the property business in addition to completing a rights issue.

GSH

On July 10, GSH Corporation (GSH) executive chairman Sam Goi Seng Hui increased his stake in the property developer. Mr Goi acquired 157,600 shares of GSH, increasing his direct stake in the stock to 49.97 per cent. These shares were acquired at S$0.45 per share and had a consideration of S$70,920.

SOG

On July 10, Singapore O&G (SOG) executive director Lee Keen Whye acquired 193,500 shares for a consideration of S$65,480. This has taken Dr Lee's stake in the specialist medical practitioner to 17.13 per cent.

Dr Lee is a leading consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Gleneagles Medical Centre and a co-founder member of the Catalist listed SOG.

Dr Lee also served as SOG's Interim CEO before the appointment of Ivan Lau Eng Kien as CEO, with effect from May 2, 2018.

Roxy Pacific

Kian Lam Investment Pte Ltd acquired 158,100 shares of Roxy-Pacific Holdings for a consideration of S$67,402 on July 6. This took the total interest of executive chairman and CEO Teo Hong Lim in the company to 61.89 per cent.

Mr Teo has been a director of Roxy-Pacific Holdings since May 1993 and currently sets out the group's strategies and leads overall management. The company also bought back 450,000 shares between July 6 and 9.

Since the current buyback mandate began on April 6, Roxy Pacific Holdings has bought back 6,173,900 shares, representing 0.5188 per cent of its issued shares (excluding treasury shares) as of the mandate.

Katrina

On June 18, Katrina Group founder, executive chairman and CEO Alan Goh Keng Chian acquired 190,000 shares at an average price of S$0.2285 per share. The consideration of the transaction totalled S$43,415. This took his total stake in the Catalist listed stock to 87.27 per cent.

He has increased this stake from 84.67 per cent with multiple acquisitions since the beginning of March 2018.

Mr Goh heads the formulation of the group's strategic directions and expansion plans in Singapore and overseas markets, and manages the group's overall business development.

MTQ

On July 4, MTQ Corporation (MTQ) chairman Kuah Kok Kim acquired 194,900 shares of MTQ for a consideration of S$37,031. Two more acquisitions followed with 132,700 shares acquired on July 9 and 49,500 shares on July 10, with a consideration of S$33,888.

This increased Mr Kuah's stake in MTQ shares to 25.11 per cent, which has gradually increased from 24.15 per cent on April 11,2018. MTQ specialises in engineering solutions for oilfield equipment.

Mr Kuah was appointed MTQ executive chairman on Sept 9, 1997 and was the CEO of the group until June 30, 2010. He was re-designated to non-executive chairman on Oct 1, 2012 and was last re-appointed as director at MTQ's annual general meeting on July 29, 2016.

In March 2018, MTQ launched a fully-underwritten rights cum warrants issue which led to net new capital of S$12 million being raised in April 2018.

Hwa Hong

Steven Ong Kay Eng continued to increase his total stake in Hwa Hong Corporation (Hwa Hong) with the acquisition of 91,000 shares. The transactions had a consideration value of S$29,155, and increased his stake in Hwa Hong to 13.518 per cent.

Mr Ong has gradually grown his stake in the company from 10.804 per cent on Nov 28, 2016, and 7.38 per cent at the end of 2014.

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