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Hong Kong watch tycoon raises stake in Cordlife to 28%, prompting jump in share price

CORDLIFE Group’s substantial shareholders, tycoon Hon Kwok Lung and his wife, Lam Suk Ying, have increased their combined stake in the mainboard-listed cord blood banker from 21.52 per cent to 28.17 per cent.

This was disclosed in a regulatory filing after midnight on Wednesday, following a surge in Cordlife’s share price on Wednesday that sparked a query from the Singapore Exchange (SGX) about its trading activity.

Mr Hon, 64, is the chairman of Hong Kong-listed Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group. He was on Forbes’ Billionaires List in 2018 with an estimated net worth of US$1 billion, although he dropped off the list this year.

On Wednesday, Cordlife’s counter climbed 16.5 per cent to close at an 11-month high of 60 Singapore cents. The Business Times reported  that there had been three married deals on Wednesday amounting to nearly 34 million shares or about 13 per cent of the total outstanding shares of the company.

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Through his wholly-owned company Full Day Limited, Mr Hon and Ms Lam had purchased some 16.88 million shares in Cordlife for S$10.1 million on Wednesday. This works out to a price tag of 60 Singapore cents per share.

Trading data showed two married trades amounting to 16.88 million shares done at 60 cents, minutes after the market reopened on Wednesday. Before the midday break, Cordlife shares had been trading at 58 cents.

The transactions increased Full Day’s direct interest in Cordlife from 9.69 per cent to 16.34 per cent, according to the Thursday filing. The filing did not identify the shareholder(s) that sold these securities.

Mr Hon also owns an 80 per cent stake in Sincere View International, another substantial shareholder of Cordlife, while Ms Lam owns the other 20 per cent.

Together, Mr Hon and Ms Lam now have a deemed interest in 71.46 million shares of Cordlife, comprising the 41.46 million shares held directly by Full Day after the Wednesday transaction and 30 million shares held directly by Sincere View.

The couple had picked up a 21.5 per cent stake in Cordlife last November for nearly S$24.6 million from China Construction Bank Corp, which was Cordlife’s largest shareholder at the time. Mr Hon and Ms Lam did not own Cordlife shares before that.

Cordlife responded to SGX’s query in a separate filing after midnight on Wednesday. It said that a possible explanation for the surge in its share price on Wednesday was its June 4 announcement of an indicative, non-binding conditional proposal to merge with New York-listed Global Cord Blood Corporation.

Cordlife also noted the three married trades during the day.

Besides the two done at 60 cents by Mr Hon and his wife, there was another married deal at 10.43am for 16.88 million shares at 52.5 cents apiece – but the buyer and seller have not been identified.

Cordlife said that it did not receive any notification from any parties in respect of the 10.43am married deal.

Save for the proposed merger and the married trades, Cordlife’s board of directors is not aware of any other possible explanation for the Wednesday price surge.

The company also confirmed that it is in compliance with listing rules.

As at 9.55am on Thursday, Cordlife shares were trading at 60.5 Singapore cents, up 0.5 cents or 0.83 per cent.