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Dissident Datapulse shareholders set June target to declare 20 cents per share payout

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The rebelling shareholders are led by Ng Bie Tjin, who, together with her family business, holds a 16 per cent share of Datapulse and has taken issue with the way the current board has tried to carry out a diversification plan.

DISSIDENT shareholders of Datapulse Technology said on Friday that they can declare an interim dividend of 20 Singapore cents per share before June 14 if they gain board control but acknowledged the challenge of paying more through a capital reduction exercise.

The shareholders offered the June timeline after Datapulse directors said it may have been misleading to promise more payouts than they might be able to deliver.

The rebelling shareholders, who want to replace the disk drive maker's directors with their own nominees, are led by Ng Bie Tjin. Together with her family business, she holds a 16 per cent share of Datapulse.

They have taken issue with the way the current board has tried to carry out a diversification plan. She had told the Business Times that her nominees plan to return 32 Singapore cents per share to shareholders, comprising a 20-cent-per-share dividend and a 12-cent-per-share capital reduction exercise.

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On Friday, the challengers said that declaring an interim dividend of 20 Singapore cents per share can be done as soon as the third-quarter results are released.

But they acknowledged that Ms Ng Siew Hong's stake presented a challenge to any capital reduction, a point that Datapulse directors had made. Ms Ng Siew Hong backs the existing board, and her 29 per cent stake is enough to block a capital reduction exercise, which requires support from at least 75 per cent of voting shares.

Datapulse directors on Friday described the timeline put forward by the shareholders as "an eleventh-hour manoeuvre to solicit support".

"The board strongly believes that Datapulse can enhance shareholder value through a business diversification from the media storage business which had deteriorated for several years," the board told the Business Times.

The dissenting shareholders nevertheless stated their intention to review how to deal with Datapulse's cash assets. They urged Datapulse's minority shareholders to band together.

"It is only by voting together, in our own interests, that we minority shareholders will be able to address the 29 per cent majority held by the current controlling shareholder," they said.