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Hot stocks: UOL, UIC, Haw Par's trading halt fuels UIC privatisation speculation

SPECULATION over the potential privatisation of United Industrial Corp (UIC) has resurfaced following the requests to halt the trading of the shares in the company along with those of subsidiaries, UOL Group and Haw Par Corp.

All three companies are come under the United Overseas business owned by the Wee family, led by patriarch Wee Cho Yaw.

UOL and Haw Par owns close to 45 per cent and 0.45 per cent of UIC, respectively. UIC in turn owns almost four-fifths of crown jewel, Singapore Land.

The Wee family owns 49.65 per cent stakes in UIC on March 15, 2017. Philippine tycoon, John Gokongwei, owns 37 per cent stakes in UIC.

Mr Wee and Mr Gokongwei had previously attempted to take over UIC and each other's stakes in 2005 and in 2009. But both attempts failed.

"What has changed now? We understand that Mr Gokongwei had previously expressed its intention to retire when he turned 90 years old last year and will pass the rein of the family business to his only son Lance Yu Gokongwei.

"This could possibly be a trigger point that leads to an opportunity for Mr Wee to takeover UIC, if Lance's stance on UIC were to change. This is not substantiated at this moment,'' DBS Vickers Securities said in its morning note.