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Stocks to watch: SembMarine, firms operating in China, NOL

The headquarters of Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. (NOL) stand in Singapore, on Friday, Mar 19, 2010.

SEMBCORP Marine (SembMarine) has fired back at Marco Polo Marine after the latter on Tuesday said in a stock exchange filing that it would terminate the US$214.3 million newbuild contract for a jack-up rig under construction at PPL Shipyard.

SembMarine on early Wednesday morning said its subsidiary, PPL Shipyard, will regard the termination as "repudiatory breach of the contract" as it had not receive any notice of termination of the construction contract at the time they learnt of the announcement.

The group disagrees with the allegations and said it will terminate the contract and claim amounts due under the contract against Marco Polo Drilling and its guarantor Marco Polo Marine.

Companies operating in China

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THE Singapore Exchange (SGX) is closely monitoring disclosures of companies, including those which show large swings in financial positions and performance, and the regulator cautioned it will not hesitate to report audit infractions to relevant authorities.

In its regulator's column on Tuesday, SGX's chief regulatory officer, Tan Boon Gin, said the regulator noted several companies with large operations in China have recently announced adverse changes in their financial positions under perplexing circumstances. These include the depletion of cash balance, assets or retained profits.

He said these companies are mainly from the textile and sporting goods, manufacturing, heavy industries, packaging, electrical and electronics, retail and chemical sectors.

NEPTUNE Orient Lines (NOL) has confirmed that it is continuing in discussions with respect to a potential acquisition of the group as announced on Nov 7 on the local bourse.

The response follows a trading activity query by the stock exchange.

NOL had said in its reply that there is no assurance that any such discussion will result in any definitive agreement or transaction, or that any offer for NOL will be made.