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INSIDE INSIGHTS

Eight companies buy back S$8 million in shares

FOR the five trading sessions spanning Feb 14 to 20, the Straits Times Index (STI) declined 0.7 per cent with the Nikkei 225 Index, Hang Seng Index and S&P/ASX 200 Index averaging a 0.8 per cent decline.

This has brought the STI's decline in total return for 2020 through to Feb 20 to 0.6 per cent, following its 9.4 per cent total return in 2019.

Meanwhile, the iEdge S-REIT Index has generated a 6.6 per cent total return, and iEdge SG All Healthcare Index has generated a 4.1 per cent total return, in the 2020 year through to Feb 20.

Share buybacks

There were eight primary-listed stocks conducting share buybacks over the five sessions ending Feb 20 with a total consideration of S$7.9 million, significantly higher than the S$361,460 in consideration for the preceding week.

Keppel Corporation, Silverlake Axis and Singapore Telecommunications led the consideration tally.

As of Feb 20, Silverlake Axis had bought back 1.02 per cent of its issued shares excluding treasury shares under the buyback resolution approved on Oct 24, 2019.

Director and substantial shareholder transactions

The five sessions spanning Feb 14 to 20 again saw 68 changes in director interests and substantial shareholdings filed for 30 primary-listed stocks.

There were nine company director acquisitions and eight disposals filed, with substantial shareholders filing 10 acquisitions and five disposals.

Don Agro International

On Feb 14, Don Agro International debuted on the Catalist board. With its subsidiaries, the listed company is one of the largest agricultural companies based in the Rostov region of Russia.

The Group has a controlled land bank of more than 50,000 hectares, of which over 40,000 hectares are arable land.

The Group intends to use proceeds from its listing to expand its arable land bank, acquire new machinery and equipment, exploring opportunities in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances as well as for general working capital.

It intends to recommend and distribute dividends of up to 20 per cent of net profit for each of FY19, FY20 and FY21 to reward shareholders for participating in the Group's growth.

As per the prospectus, executive chairman Evgeny Tugolukov maintains a 78.2 per cent direct interest in Don Agro International following the placement, with CEO Marat Devlet-Kildeyev maintaining a 5.0 per cent direct interest.

Medtecs International Corporation

Between Jan 30 and Feb 6 , Medtecs International Corporation (Medtecs) deputy executive chairman Xia Junwei disposed of his 14.90 per cent interest in the Catalist-listed company.

Mr Xia disposed of all of his 81,862,275 shares for a consideration of S$10,758,275 at an average price of S$0.1214 per share.

He acquired these shares via a placement with an issue price of S$0.07 per share, and consideration of S$5,730,359 on Oct 19, 2015.

Medtecs is a provider of healthcare products and services, and a leading manufacturer of medical consumables. Its share price has recently moved from 3.7 cents at the end of 2019, to a high of 21.0 cents on Jan 29, and back to 9.8 cents on Feb 20.

Medtecs' main lines of business include manufacturing original products and providing integrated hospital services.

As an original product manufacturer of a wide range of medical consumables, and hospital and workwear apparels, Medtecs maintains manufacturing facilities located in the Philippines, China and Cambodia.

Net proceeds from the placement to Mr Xia back in 2015 were designated for the general working capital of the company, including but not limited to business development in China and repayment of bank loans.

Note that the placement agreement with Mr Xia, announced on Sept 2, 2015, coincided with his subsequent appointment as non-executive and non-independent director of the company on Oct 15, 2015.

He was then later appointed deputy non-executive chairman of the Board on Nov 20, 2015. He was re-designated executive director on July 5, 2016.

Vibrant Group

On Feb 17 and 19, Vibrant Group executive director and CEO Eric Khua Kian Keong acquired 15.0 million shares of the listed company with a consideration of S$3,867,000.

The married deals were transacted at an average price of S$0.258 per share.

The two acquisitions increased Mr Khua's total interest in the integrated logistics services provider from 59.224 per cent to 61.391 per cent.

His preceding acquisition of Vibrant Group shares was on Sept 16 with 359,000 shares acquired at S$0.146 per share.

Mr Khua has been the CEO of Vibrant Group (formerly known as Freight Links Express Holdings) since November 2003.

He is also an alternate director of Freight Management Holdings Berhad, an associated company listed on Bursa Malaysia.

Synagie

On Feb 18, Synagie shareholder Ng Yew Nam disposed of 7,854,900 shares in the Catalist-listed company for a consideration of S$995,694.

At an average price of S$0.1268 per share, this reduced his shareholding below the substantial shareholder threshold, from 5.50 per cent to 2.92 per cent.

Mr Ng's holdings in Synagie crossed above the 5.00 per cent threshold on Nov 19, 2019, with the acquisition of 1,245.100 shares at S$0.1260 per share.

Lian Beng Group

Between Feb 13 and 18, Ong Sek Chong & Sons acquired 180,400 shares of Lian Beng Group. The consideration for the acquisitions was S$90,200 at an average price of S$0.500 per share.

This took the total interest of Ong Sek Chong & Sons in the homegrown construction group from 30.04 per cent to 30.08 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.

As of Feb 18, Mr Ong maintained a 35.75 per cent total interest in Lian Beng Group, with Ms Ong maintaining a total interest of 33.29 per cent.

Civmec

On Feb 19, Civmec independent director Douglas Owen Chester acquired 20,000 shares of the listed company for a consideration of A$9,500 (S$8,7,84).

At A$0.475 per share, the acquisition of Civmec shares on the ASX, increased the deemed interests of Mr Chester in Civmec to 0.014 per cent.

Civmec is traded on both SGX and ASX, with approximately 60 per cent of the combined turnover of both listings transacted on SGX in the 2020 year-to-date.

The company is an integrated, multi-disciplinary construction and engineering services provider to the Oil & Gas, Metals & Minerals, infrastructure and Marine & Defence sectors.

Mr Chester was appointed to the Board of Civmec on Nov 2, 2012, following Civmec's listing on April 13, 2012.

He is also an independent director of the Australian Maritime Shipbuilding and Export Group and was previously a senior Australian Government official and diplomat - prior to his appointment - as Australia's High Commissioner to Singapore.

Civmec executive chairman James Finbarr Fitzgerald and his spouse (Olive Teresa Fitzgerald) are the trustees of the JF & OT Fitzgerald Family Trust, which maintains a 19.51 per cent direct interest in Civmec.

Civmec CEO Patrick John Tallon maintains a 0.01 per cent direct interest and 19.47 per cent deemed interest in Civmec.

For its 1HFY20 (ended Dec 31), the Group generated revenue of A$166.2 million and net profit of A$8.1 million.

This represented a 38.7 per cent year on year increase in net profit, with Civmec also maintaining an order book of A$765 million as at Dec 31, 2019.

Hwa Hong Corporation

On Feb 14, Hwa Hong Corporation substantial shareholder David Ong Eng Hui Eng increased his direct stake in Hwa Hong from 6.002 per cent to 6.013 per cent.

Dr Ong acquired 73,700 shares of the property rental investor and developer for a consideration of S$24,328 at an average price of S$0.330 per share.

He 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 Dr Ong's father, Mr Steven Ong Kay Eng, to 15.900 per cent.

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