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INSIDE INSIGHTS

Directors boost stakes in real estate plays

FOR the five trading sessions ended Aug 30, the Straits Times Index (STI) declined 0.7 per cent, with the Nikkei 225, Hang Seng and S&P/ASX 200 Indices averaging a 1.5 per cent gain.

For the 2018 year through to Aug 30, the STI generated a 2.1 per cent decline in total return, compared to the three benchmarks that averaged a 2.4 per cent gain.

Share buybacks

Share buyback momentum continued with 21 stocks conducting buybacks and consideration totalling S$67.2 million over the five sessions, following consideration of S$66.8 million for the preceding shorter trading week.

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The buyback tally was again led by DBS Group Holdings which bought back 1.4 million shares over the course of four sessions for a consideration of S$35.4 million. On Aug 28, Hwa Hong Corporation commenced its buyback mandate which was approved on April 25.

Director and substantial shareholder transactions

The five sessions spanning Aug 24 to 30 saw 36 primary-listed stocks lodge 114 changes in director interests or substantial shareholdings. This was a similar pace of filings as the preceding week.

There were 26 company director acquisitions and again no disposals filed, while substantial shareholders filed 23 acquisitions and seven disposals. The same corresponding week for 2017 saw 130 interests filed for 55 primary-listed stocks.

UMS Holdings chairman and CEO Andy Luong acquired 500,000 shares of the precision engineering group at an average price of S$0.785 per share. With a consideration of S$392,500, this took Mr Luong's total stake in UMS up to 20.38 per cent.

Mr Luong's preceding acquisition was for the same amount of shares, at the same price, back on June 19, 2018.

Silverlake Axis independent non-executive director Ong Kian Min increased his stake in the digital economy solutions and services provider, while Avi Tech Electronics CEO Lim Eng Hong also increased his stake in the semiconductor play.

The iEdge SGX Real Estate Developers & Operators Index which has declined some 8.6 per cent in the year thus far (inclusive of dividends) generated a 0.3 per cent gain over the five sessions.

Over the week there were also a number of real estate developers or operators that saw directors build their total interests in the respective companies.

UIC

On Aug 27, UOL Equity Investments Pte Ltd acquired 83,700 shares of United Industrial Corporation (UIC) for a consideration of S$261,282 at an average price of S$3.12165 per share.

This took the total stake in UIC that is held by its chairman, Wee Cho Yaw, to 50.0746 per cent. Mr Wee has gradually increased his total stake in the property developer and investment company from 49.8398 per cent at the end of 2017 and 49.6363 per cent at the end of 2016.

SLB Development

Over consecutive sessions (Aug 27 and 28) Lian Beng Group Ltd acquired a total of 1,195,900 shares of SLB Development (SLB) for a consideration of S$218,105.

This took its stake in SLB, its property developer spin-off which listed on Catalist in April, to 74.11 per cent. Note that Ong Sek Chong & Sons Pte Ltd, Mr Ong Pang Aik and Ms Ong Lay Huan are the controlling shareholders of Lian Beng Group Ltd.

PropNex

On Aug 24, PropNex co-founder, executive chairman and CEO Mohamed Ismail Gafoor acquired 150,000 shares for a consideration of S$83,890. The acquisition took his total interest in the stock to 62.704 per cent.

The majority of Mr Mohamed Ismail's deemed stake is via his 62 per cent ownership of P&N Holdings Pte Ltd (P&N).

On Aug 24 and 28, PropNex co-founder and executive director Alan Lim Tow Huat also increased his stake in the stock. Over the two sessions, Mr Lim acquired 85,000 shares of PropNex and a consideration of S$47,500.

Mr Lim's total stake in PropNex is now 57.83 per cent, with the majority of his deemed stake maintained via his 38 per cent ownership of P&N. P&N holds 55.63 per cent of PropNex's issued shares.

PropNex executive director Kelvin Fong Keng Seong also added to his stake in the stock on Aug 24, acquiring 8,200 shares at S$0.555 per share. Mr Fong maintains a total stake of 7.35 per cent in PropNex.

Mr Mohamed Ismail is responsible for the group's strategic direction and oversees business operations, while Mr Lim is responsible for formulating the group's corporate strategies, analysis of various potential business development opportunities and growing the business portfolio.

Mr Fong oversees the training development curriculum of PropNex and is also responsible for the real estate salespersons skills in addition to overseeing the development of its IT strategies and technology innovations.

Keong Hong Holdings

Over consecutive sessions (Aug 27 and 28) Keong Hong Holdings non-executive and non-independent director Lionel Leo Zhen Wei acquired 110,000 shares of the stock for a consideration of S$56,900. This took Mr Leo's stake in the stock to 0.11 per cent. He has gradually built this stake since July 16, 2018.

Mr Leo is a partner in the Banking and Financial Disputes Practice of Wong Partnership LLP. He is also the son of the chairman and CEO of Keong Hong Holdings', Ronald Leo Ting Ping.

Mr Ronald Leo is the largest shareholder of Keong Hong Holdings, maintaining a direct holding of 22.99 per cent of the stock in addition to a deemed interest of 29.44 per cent of the stock, as at December 2017.

Keong Hong Holdings provides a broad range of building construction services to both private and public sectors for residential, commercial, industrial and institutional projects.

Its foundations go back to 1983 and the business listed on Catalist in December 2011, before transferring to the Mainboard in August 2016.

Hiap Hoe

On Aug 27, Hiap Hoe CEO Teo Ho Beng acquired 62,100 shares of the regional real estate group for a consideration of S$56,648. This took Mr Teo's total stake in Hiap Hoe to 74.85 per cent.

Mr Teo has more than 40 years of experience in the construction and property industries, and over 27 years of experience in the leisure industry.

Mr Teo's preceding acquisition of Hiap Hoe shares was on June 1, 2018, when he acquired 1.8 million shares for a consideration of S$1.566 million via a married deal.

Bonvests Holdings

Over consecutive sessions (Aug 27 and 28), Bonvests Holdings chairman and managing director Henry Ngo increased his deemed interest by acquiring 15,800 shares at S$1.30 per share. Mr Ngo maintains an 82.93 per cent total interest in Bonvests Holdings.

The group's core businesses are property development and investment, hotel ownership and management, waste management and contract cleaning of buildings.

Mr Ngo is also the founder of Bonvests Holdings and is responsible for mapping out the corporate and growth strategy of the group.

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