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The Place Holdings returns to profit in Q4 on new events business

MAINBOARD-LISTED investment holding company The Place Holdings turned a profit in the last quarter of 2018, reversing the prior year's loss, as revenue improved on new events management business.

Net profit for the three months to Dec 31, 2018 was S$162,000, against the previous year's S$795,000 loss, according to unaudited financial results released on Thursday. The return to the black came on the back of a 53 per cent increase in turnover, to S$926,000.

Almost a quarter of that was revenue from management of cultural events and activities - mainly with non-recurring contracts - while the rest was earned from the provision of management services to Beijing Aozhongxingye Real Estate Development, which is controlled by executive chairman Ji Zenghe.

Earnings per share for the three months was reported as insignificant because the value was less than 0.01 Singapore cent. The Place had posted a loss per share of 0.01 Singapore cent the previous year.

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No dividend was declared for the quarter, unchanged from the year before, with the board saying in the financial statements that The Place "will be retaining its cash for expansion purpose (sic)".

Full-year net profit stood at S$1.92 million, down by 79 per cent year on year, as revenue slid by 26 per cent to S$1.8 million. The bottom line was boosted by net finance income of S$2.91 million based on interest income and an unrealised currency gain on United States dollar-denominated cash and cash equivalents.

Earnings per share for the 12 months fell to 0.03 Singapore cent, from 0.2 Singapore cent before.

Meanwhile, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Place had inked an agreement in November 2017 to take an 80 per cent stake in Tianjie Yuntai Wanrun (Xiuwu) Property Development Co for US$20.53 million, to build corporate clubhouses on Tianjie Yuntai Wanrun's land.

The deal is deemed an interested person transaction as Mr Ji, the executive chairman, and chief executive Fan Xianyong have an effective stake of 24 per cent in Tianjie Yuntai Wanrun.

The Place has now said in its latest outlook statement that the management is awaiting the relevant Chinese regulators' approval for the proposed share subscription and announcements will be made when the company gets the green light.

The Place, which had previously traded as Eucon Holding, is backed by China's The Place Investment Group. It now deals in branding, events organising and tourism-related business development.

It was removed from the Singapore Exchange's watch list for potential delisting in June 2018, after meeting the financial exit criteria: recording consolidated pre-tax profit for the most recently completed financial year and having an average daily market value of at least S$40 million in the past six months.

It had been taken off the bourse operator's minimum trading price watch-list the year before.

The Place ended lower on Wednesday by 0.1 Singapore cent, or 5.56 per cent, at 1.7 Singapore cents.