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Hot stock: Marco Polo Marine surges 12% on new equity injection

SHARES of Marco Polo Marine surged 12 per cent, or 0.7 Singapore cent to 6.6 Singapore cents apiece as at 10.11am on Friday in the wake of a S$20 million equity investment by Super Group's founding Teo family.

Some 538 million shares changed hands, making it the most hotly traded counter on the Singapore bourse in the early morning trade.

Apricot, the private investment firm of the Teo family, is forking out a third of the S$60 million rescue financing pledged by nine investors for Marco Polo.

Among other things, Darren Teo, who heads up Apricot, explained that his family is building on a block of trust they have in Marco Polo's chief executive, Sean Lee. He added that the family is taking a contrarian view and trying to uncover gems in the oil and gas (O&G) sector.

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Just last week, Marco Polo completed its months-long debt restructuring exercise, paving the way for this new equity to enter the financially troubled listed group. Apricot has emerged as the largest shareholder in Marco Polo with a 19.28 per cent deemed and direct interest.

In addition, Singapore government-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings is also said to be mulling equity stakes in Mainboard-listed Marco Polo.

BT understands that Heliconia Capital, a Temasek Holdings-funded investmnet firm, is eyeing UOB Bank's 10.29 per cent stake in Marco Polo.

Industry observers believe that if Temasek is serious about investing in O&M firms, Marco Polo would be an understandable choice since it is among the first listed entities to emerge from a debt revamp.

One analyst said UOB's exit would offer Heliconia the opportunity for a stake in Marco Polo at a good bargain.

Upon completion of Marco Polo's debt restructuring last week, UOB's stake of 10.29 per cent in deemed and direct interest worked out to over 362.18 million shares, according to a Jan 29 disclosure on the Singapore Exchange. Marco Polo had offered as part settlement of its bank loans and other liabilities an equity swap pegged at 3.5 Singapore cents per share.

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