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INSIDE INSIGHTS

More filings, with DBS leading buyback tally

FOR the five trading sessions ended Aug 16, the Straits Times Index (STI) declined 3.5 per cent, coinciding with the Nikkei 225, Hang Seng and S&P/ASX 200 Indices averaging a decline of 2.1 per cent.

For the 2018 year through to Aug 16, the STI generated a 2.6 per cent decline in total return, compared to the three benchmarks that averaged a 0.4 per cent gain.

Share buybacks

With the earnings season coming to a close, there was a significant pickup in share buyback momentum. Buyback consideration totalled S$93.3 million for the five sessions ended Aug 16.

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This was up nine-fold from the preceding four sessions and higher than the corresponding week in 2017 with buyback consideration of S$24.4 million.

The buyback tally was led by DBS Group Holdings (DBS) which bought back 2.95 million shares over the course of five sessions for a total consideration of S$74,994,845. As at Aug 16, DBS had bought back 3,804,800 shares on the mandate which began on April 25, representing 0.1484 per cent of its issued shares.

Director and substantial shareholder transactions

The five sessions spanning Aug 10 to 16 saw filings lodged on 46 primary-listed stocks with approximately 75 changes in director interests or substantial shareholdings. This was up from 50 filings on 30 primary-listed stocks in the preceding four sessions.

There were 24 company director acquisitions and four disposals filed, while substantial shareholders filed 20 acquisitions and 11 disposals. The same week for 2017 saw approximately 100 interests filed for 55 primary-listed stocks.

Golden Agri Resources

Silchester International Investors LLP's (SII LLP's) holdings in Golden-Agri Resources (GAR) crossed above the 12 per cent threshold due to a series of transactions over a series of different trading days. SII LLP's filing noted a total of 3,922,200 shares were acquired for a consideration of S$1,098,216. SII LLP acts as the fully discretionary investment manager for a number of commingled funds. In acting for its clients, SII LLP is given full discretionary authority and is empowered to vote all proxies on their behalf. However, SII LLP does not act as the custodian of client assets and therefore shares are not held in SII LLP's name but in the nominee name of each client's custodian.

ABR Holdings

On Aug 14, ABR Holdings managing director Ang Yee Lim acquired 153,900 shares of the company for a consideration of S$128,434. This took Mr Ang's stake in the stock from 50.065 per cent to 50.142 per cent. Mr Ang has over 10 years of experience in the food and beverage business and more than 30 years of experience in property development and investment in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Hwa Hong Corporation

Steven Ong Kay Eng continued to increase his total stake in Hwa Hong Corporation (Hwa Hong) with the acquisition of 1.5 million shares. The married trade on Aug 13 had a consideration value of S$480,000 and increased Mr Ong's stake in Hwa Hong from 13.54 per cent to 13.77 per cent. Mr Ong has gradually grown his stake in the company from 10.80 per cent on Nov 28, 2016, and 7.38 per cent at the end of 2014.

PropNex

On Aug 15, PropNex co-founder, executive chairman and CEO Mohamed Ismail Gafoor acquired 100,000 shares of the stock for a consideration of S$57,375, taking his total interest in the stock to 62.60 per cent.

With more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry, he is responsible for the group's strategic direction and oversees business operations of the group as a whole.

This includes functions such as compliance, finance, human resources, legal, marketing, operations, sales and information technology.

Between Aug 13 and 15, PropNex executive director Kelvin Fong Keng Seong acquired 149,900 shares of PropNex for a consideration of S$86,692. This increased his total interest in PropNex to 7.35 per cent. Mr Fong's preceding transaction in PropNex was the acquisition of 50,000 shares at S$0.595 per share on 18 July.

Mr Fong oversees both the PropNex training development curriculum and is also responsible for its real estate salespersons skills. He also oversees the development of PropNex's IT strategies and technology innovations so as to improve the company's competitive edge in the industry.

According to the CEA, PropNex currently employs over 7,454 salespersons in Singapore. The integrated real estate services group also has overseas operations in Indonesia with 800 salespersons across 18 offices, and 100 salespersons in Malaysia, in addition to operations in Vietnam expected to commence by the end of this quarter.

Sing Holdings

On Aug 7 and Aug 10, Sing Holdings managing director and CEO Lee Sze Hao continued to acquire more shares of the company, taking his total stake up to 39.11 per cent. A total of 380,600 shares were acquired at approximately 40 cents per share and a consideration of S$152,224. Since Sing Holdings reported its FY17 results in February, Mr Lee has gradually increased his stake in the company from 38.45 per cent.

Mr Lee joined the group as an executive director in 1992 and was appointed the company's managing director in 2001 and designated as CEO of the company in 2009.

He has been running the property business for more than 20 years and he plays a pivotal role in the management of the group's business.

For its H1FY18 (ended June 30), the group recorded a profit attributable to shareholders of S$6.8 million. Revenue for the half year rose due to recognition of sales proceeds from property under development.

This increase in revenue was partially offset by an increase in sales and marketing expenses incurred for property under development and higher tax expense provided on profit from sale of property under development.

United Global

On Aug 14, United Global executive director and CEO Jacky Tan Thuan Hor acquired 350,000 shares of the company at 40 cents per share and a consideration of S$140,000. This took Mr Tan's total interest in United Global to 35.06 per cent.

Mr Tan is responsible for the overall strategic, management and business development of the group. He is one of the founders of the group and has more than 18 years of experience in the lubricant industry. Mr Tan's spouse, executive director Ety Wiranto, also maintains a total stake of 35.06 per cent in United Global.

AEM Holdings

On Aug 6, AEM Holdings (AEM) non-executive and independent director Loh Kin Wah acquired 200,000 shares of AEM for a consideration of S$136,000. This has taken Mr Loh's direct stake in AEM to 0.186 per cent. Mr Loh's preceding acquisition in AEM was for 100,000 shares back on July 9.

Mr Loh was appointed to the AEM board on May 4 and has extensive leadership experience in the semiconductor industry, and has held senior positions in finance and asset management.

On July 30, AEM reported its H1FY18 (ended June 30) net profit improved 43.4 per cent from S$12.3 million in H1FY17 to S$17.7 million in H1FY18 due to higher sales, product margin and cost efficiency improvements. As detailed in the table, AEM also bought back 200,000 shares over the five sessions for a consideration of S$131,336. This brought the total number of shares bought back under the mandate which began on April 26, to 800,000 shares.

Miyoshi

On Aug 14, Miyoshi non-executive and non-independent director Thomas Pek Ee Perh acquired 500,000 shares of the stock for a consideration of S$27,500. Mr Pek maintains a direct 2.7 per cent stake in Miyoshi. This followed Miyoshi CEO Andrew Sin's acquisition of 2 million shares on Aug 6 from non-executive and non-independent director Masayoshi Taira via a married deal.

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