AS many as 37 primary-listed stocks in Singapore conducted buybacks in Q1 2021, with consideration totalling S$134 million.
Over the three months, the Straits Times Index (STI) gained 11.3 per cent, and the buyback consideration represented 0.01 per cent of the S$943.8 billion in market capitalisation of all stocks listed on SGX as of March 31.
The quarterly consideration was down year-on-year, from the S$599 million in buybacks in Q1 2020, with most of that buyback activity conducted in the volatile month of March 2020.
However, compared to 2017, when the STI generated similar first quarter gains of 10.2 per cent, the Q1 2021 buyback consideration was up 63 per cent.
Wilmar International led the Q1 2021 consideration tally, buying back 8,141,700 shares in the quarter at an average price of S$5.29.
As of March 31, the leading agribusiness group had purchased 0.83 per cent of its issued shares (excluding treasury shares) on the current mandate.
As Wilmar International noted in its FY20 (ended Dec 31) annual report, during the 2020 year the company re-purchased 44.7 million of its ordinary shares for a consideration of S$190 million, at an average price of S$4.25 per share.
The company also lodged the second highest buyback consideration for Singapore's primary listed stocks in the 2020 year, after DBS.
Wilmar International added that its current share buyback mandate expires on April 15, 2021, the date of the forthcoming annual general meeting (AGM).
Shareholder approval for the proposed renewal of the mandate will be sought at the AGM, on the same day.
The company also reaffirmed that share purchases would only be made when it is in the best interests of the company, and in appropriate circumstances, which will not materially and adversely affect the liquidity and orderly trading of the company's shares, including the working capital requirements and gearing level of the group.
To commemorate the successful listing of Yihai Kerry Arawana Holdings, Wilmar International is also proposing a special dividend of 6.5 Singapore cents per share, in addition to the dividend of 13 cents per share.
In total, the company is proposing a cash dividend of 19.5 cents per share for its FY20, the highest since the group listed in 2006.