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SGX queries Hong Leong Asia on rising stock price; shares climb 7.9%

SHARES of Hong Leong Asia (HLA) - the trade and industry arm of the Hong Leong group - surged on Friday, drawing a query from the bourse operator regarding its "unusual price movements".

As at 1.56pm, the mainboard-listed counter had jumped 7.9 per cent or S$0.05 to trade at S$0.68, with some 1.8 million shares changing hands.

Shareinvestor data showed that there were no married deals and no large transactions, defined as those valued at S$150,000 or more, done by that time.

In the morning, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) asked HLA whether it was aware of any information not previously announced concerning the company that might explain the trading.

It also asked whether the company - whose portfolio includes diesel engines, building materials and plastic packaging - knew of other possible reasons for the trading activity.

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Before the SGX query, HLA's last announcement was a filing on Thursday evening noting that its executive chairman Kwek Leng Peck had raised his stake in the company to about 1.05 per cent from 0.97 per cent previously. Mr Kwek on Nov 24 purchased 607,500 ordinary shares in HLA for S$388,800, or S$0.64 apiece. He has also been increasing his interest in the firm since last week, based on regulatory filings.

Meanwhile, on Nov 17, HLA chief executive officer and executive director Stephen Ho took a stake of about 0.01 per cent in the company, by acquiring 103,500 shares for about S$53,758, or 51.94 Singapore cents per share. Before that, Mr Ho did not hold any HLA shares, according to the company's disclosure on Nov 18.

Separately, Mr Kwek was in the spotlight last month when he resigned from City Development Limited (CDL) as a non-executive and non-independent director, citing differences with the property giant's board. CDL and HLA are part of the Hong Leong group of companies.

Mr Kwek had disagreed with the board and management on CDL's investment in China-based Sincere Property Group, as well as the management of CDL's British hotel arm Millennium & Copthorne Hotels.

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