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Showing posts from 2017

Keppel O&M to pay US$422m in fines after reaching global resolution on corruption probe

Keppel Corporation's offshore and marine unit has reached a global resolution with criminal authorities in the United States, Brazil and Singapore in relation to corrupt payments made by a former agent in Brazil.
The resolution, involving three jurisdictions across the world, is unprecedented for a Singapore company.
As part of the resolution, Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) will pay fines amounting to US$422.2 million (S$570 million), to be allocated between the US, Brazil, and Singapore, the Singapore-listed conglomerate said in a statement early Saturday (Dec 23).
The corrupt payments relate to those made by Mr Zwi Skornicki on several Keppel O&M projects in Brazil, which were carried out with the knowledge or approval of former Keppel O&M executives.
Of the US$422.2 million in fines, Keppel O&M will pay about US$105.6 million to the US, including a US$4.7 million criminal fine by Keppel O&M USA.
Brazil will receive US$211.1 million or 50 per cent…

ISR Capital lists additional shares in REO Magnetic deal

ISR Capital has announced that due to a change in its issued share capital, the total consideration for its deal with REO Magnetic will be lowered to S$2.99 million from S$4.52 million.
In a filing with the Singapore Exchange (SGX), ISR said that the consideration price per share for the deal with REO - which would see ISR take an aggregate stake of 60 per cent in Mauritian company Tantalum Holding - would be adjusted to 0.4 Singapore cent from the initial price of 0.67 Singapore cent, and the number of consideration shares would be adjusted to 747.26 million shares.
This was after a conversion of S$1 million of convertible bonds into 250 million conversion shares on Dec 6.
Tantalum Holding owns 100 per cent of Tantalum Rare Earth Malagasy, which has a permit to explore and develop a concession hosting critical rare earth elements in Madagascar.
Under amended terms of the Tantalum acquisition, ISR was to issue 674.78 million of its own shares to REO Magnetic at 0.67 Singapore cent pe…

Cosco hits acquisition threshold, aims to delist Cogent

Chinese shipping firm Cosco Shipping International (Singapore) has hit the 90 per cent compulsory acquisition mark for its $1.02-a-share cash offer for Cogent Holdings.
As at 5pm on Thursday, Cosco had received valid acceptances representing around 5.68 per cent of the total number of Cogent shares, the company said.
Cosco had previously received irrevocable undertakings by four Cogent shareholders, who collectively hold 84.33 per cent of the total number of Cogent's shares.
Since this brings Cosco's total holdings to 90.01 per cent, Cosco said that it will pursue a delisting of Cogent from the Singapore Exchange.
The four undertaking shareholders are Cogent's executive chairman Tan Yeow Khoon, his wife Ng Poh Choo, managing director Tan Yeow Lam, and executive director and chief executive Benson Tan Min Cheow, all of whom had agreed to accept the offer on or before Jan 3 next year.
Cosco's offer price represents some 31/2 times Cogent's net tangible asset per sha…

Consideration for ISR Capital's deal with REO Magnetic lowered

ISR Capital has announced that due to a change in its issued share capital, the total consideration for its deal with REO Magnetic will be lowered to S$2.99 million from S$4.52 million.
In a filing with the Singapore Exchange (SGX), ISR said that the consideration price per share for the deal with REO - which would see ISR take an aggregate stake of 60 per cent in Mauritian company Tantalum Holding - would be adjusted to 0.4 Singapore cent from the initial price of 0.67 Singapore cent, and the number of consideration shares would be adjusted to 747.26 million shares.
This was after a conversion of S$1 million of convertible bonds into 250 million conversion shares on Dec 6.
Tantalum Holding owns 100 per cent of Tantalum Rare Earth Malagasy, which has a permit to explore and develop a concession hosting critical rare earth elements in Madagascar.
Under amended terms of the Tantalum acquisition, ISR was to issue 674.78 million of its own shares to REO Magnetic at 0.67 Singapore cent pe…

Cosco hits 90% acquisition threshold in takeover bid, plans to delist Cogent

Chinese shipping company Cosco Shipping International (Singapore) has hit the 90 per cent compulsory acquisition mark for its S$1.02-a-share cash offer for Cogent Holdings.
As at 5pm on Dec 21, Cosco has received valid acceptances representing around 5.68 per cent of the total number of Cogent shares, the company said.
Cosco had previously received irrevocable undertakings by four Cogent shareholders, who collectively hold 84.33 per cent of the total number of Cogent's shares.
Since this brings Cosco's total holdings to 90.01 per cent, Cosco said that it will pursue a delisting of Cogent from the Singapore Exchange.
The four undertaking shareholders are Cogent's executive chairman Tan Yeow Khoon, his wife Ng Poh Choo, managing director Tan Yeow Lam, and executive director and chief executive Benson Tan Min Cheow, with all four agreeing to accept the offer on or before Jan 3, 2018.
Cosco's offer price represents some 3 1/2 times Cogent's net tangible asset per shar…

1MDB fallout: NRA founder Kevin Scully to resign after MAS issues 3-year ban

NRA Capital founder Kevin Scully will resign from his firm after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) slapped him with a three-year ban on financial advisory work in the wake of investigations into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Mr Scully, a veteran of the Singapore financial market who founded his boutique outfit in 1999, told The Business Times that he will relinquish his duties from NRA and resign from his post following the PO (prohibition order), and that "the staff will take over the business if they want to".
Sen Yue Holdings, a company at which Mr Scully is lead independent director, also announced on Tuesday that its nominating committee is reviewing the matter and will make recommendations in due course on Mr Scully's directorship.
In a statement on Tuesday, the MAS said that it had issued a prohibition order against Mr Scully restricting him from providing any financial advisory services; and taking part in the management of, acting as a director of, …

Rowsley can raise value by divesting non-core assets

IF billionaire Peter Lim had wanted to realise the fullest value for the Thomson Medical healthcare group, an initial public offering (IPO) would have been the cleanest way to structure a deal.
By choosing instead to inject these healthcare assets into Rowsley, the listed firm which he also controls, Mr Lim seems to be making an effort to reverse the fortunes of the loss-making company with interests in a mishmash of businesses including real estate, design consultancy and hotel management.
On Monday, Rowsley inked a deal to acquire the Thomson Medical's businesses from Mr Lim for S$1.6 billion, to be paid mostly in stock. An IPO was certainly something Thomson had considered. In September last year, Roy Quek, executive chairman of Thomson Medical and chief executive of TMC Life Sciences, told The Business Times that the group was gunning for an initial public offering. He told BT then: "If we were to do a listing now, we'd probably have a market capitalisation of S$2 bi…

SGX – Conflict of interests

Many in the industry have cried foul that SGX is compromising itself by holding the dual roles of regulator and of running the exchange as a profit making organization. The conflict of interests is so glaring that only when one is behaving like gods and infallibles that one would think otherwise. In this exceptional island, SGX is not the only place where conflict of interests were ignored as irrelevant and inapplicable. And this sad state of affair is going to continue unquestioned and unchallenged for as long as your life time if things did not change, if the political status quo remains as it is.
The underlying assumption is that this exceptional island is so blessed with very exceptional human beans that have impeccable integrity, honesty and are so honourable that you can believe they would not compromise themselves even if they assumed the roles of judge, jury and executioner. They cannot be compromised or are incorruptible! So to be the regulator to police any wrong doings in …

Want to work for a Chinese company? Make sure you understand this first

To succeed at a Chinese company, aim for unrealistic targets; be courageous in a new businesses; create as many new roles as needed; and aggressively go after market share.
Over the past decade and a half, I’ve advised many expatriate executives working for multinational companies in China. I have also advised Chinese executives working for local companies in the country.
But increasingly, I am finding myself counselling foreign executives working for Chinese bosses at Chinese companies. Most of these are privately-held Chinese companies, often founded and operated by an entrepreneurial Chairman.
One thing I’ve observed among the multinational executives that I’ve worked with is just how unprepared they are to deal with the many nuances of how Chinese companies really work.
Companies are constantly revisiting their business plans and projections. It’s an environment that rewards quick decisions and the agility to grab opportunities before the competition gets there first.
Nowhere is …

Your loss is your problem, China tells small investors as it tightens money rules

High-risk, high-return, yet state-protected products have warped prices and bred complacency
Retired Shanghai truck driver Shen Xipei shunned risky stocks and low-yielding deposits and instead put his life savings into a wealth management product (WMP) sold - and guaranteed - by a bank.
Soon, however, investors such as Mr Shen may start switching into other assets after Beijing published draft guidelines on Nov 17 to ban financial institutions from guaranteeing investors against losses, tightening supervision of what the central bank says is a US$9 trillion asset management industry.
A move away from bank WMPs by armies of Chinese investors - which some analysts expect - would likely trigger a seismic shift in China's asset management industry, with the new rules apparently favouring transparent mutual fund products.
"I bought the WMP because I trust banks. They don't run away with your money," said 63-year-old Mr Shen.
The product he bought from Industrial Bank pro…

MMP Resources - all 'snowed in'?

Among the endless heaps of never-give-up quotes out there, there is one that goes: "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries".
That may not always be applicable in the corporate world as much as the personal realm. And sometimes, companies need to call it as they see it.
A reality check such as that may be long overdue for ailing MMP Resources. The mainboard-listed firm - which was listed in 2008, and until two years ago called itself Sino Construction - has barely had a good run.
That's putting it mildly. It began as a construction firm in China, then tried to venture into the mining business in South Africa (it didn't pan out) and later, shifted its focus to micro powerplants in South Korea (this was what had led to the company's name change but it would, ironically, exit the business a year later). Now its latest pursuit involves a ski business in Japan.
Last March, the company found itself on the Singapore Exchange's (SGX) watch li…

Ex-ISR director, David Rigoll, sells 14% stake for S$1.2m; no longer substantial shareholder

A former director of ISR Capital who quit over a pay dispute is no longer a substantial shareholder of the company after selling a 13.61 per cent stake for about S$1.2 million in total.
ISR, an investment services company, disclosed the transactions by David Rigoll on Tuesday before the market opened. Mr Rigoll was previously the company's largest shareholder.
On Nov 16, Mr Rigoll sold 27.37 million shares, or a 1.19 per cent stake, for S$136,850, or 0.5 Singapore cent per share share, on the open market.
On the same day, he sold 287.5 million shares, or a 12.42 per cent stake, for S$1.062 million, or 0.37 Singapore cent per share, through a married deal.
It was not clear from ISR's announcement whether the effective date of the open-market transaction referred to the day that the trades were settled or the day that the trades were matched. Market data from ShareInvestor.com showed just 1.6 million ISR shares changing hands on Nov 16. On Nov 14, however, 56.5 million ISR shar…

Alibaba's rise creates 10 billionaires not named Jack Ma

Jack Ma, who launched China's largest e-commerce company two decades ago and rode it to a US$47.6 billion fortune, turns out to have created billions of dollars of wealth for at least 10 others - a total of almost US$100 billion.
By investing directly in or partnering with companies that provide services for his online buying platforms - from payment systems to delivery companies - Mr Ma and his Alibaba Group Holding Ltd have minted a network of people whose combined fortunes total more than US$52 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
With Mr Ma's wealth included, the collective net worth is larger than the economies of 136 countries.
"Jack is a long-term visionary," said Duncan Clark, author of the book "Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built" and an early adviser to the company.
The network of companies all feeding Alibaba at the centre "is something Jack Ma envisioned and planned from a long time ago."
The fortunes have emerge…

Duo get much heftier fines for unauthorised share trading after MAS appeal

The High Court of Singapore has slapped heftier fines on two individuals for unauthorised share trading after an appeal by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Mr Wang Boon Heng saw his fine doubled to S$150,000 from S$75,000, while Ms Foo Jee Chin will now have to pay S$75,000, up from S$50,000. The earlier civil penalties were doled out in March this year by the State Courts.
MAS felt that the original fines "did not adequately reflect the severity of the breaches and a higher civil penalty was needed to deter such misconduct", it said in a media release on Thursday (Nov 2).
Wang and Foo were further ordered to pay MAS S$21,000 for the legal costs and disbursements incurred by regulator for the appeal. This comes on top of S$58,636 in legal costs the duo were ordered to pay by the State Courts.
Wang carried out share trading for his own benefit in accounts opened in Foo's name with DMG & Partners and UOB Kay Hian, between September and December 2007. This wa…

Short seller Muddy Waters sues Google to unmask fake reporter seeking research

Short seller Carson Block's firm sued Google seeking to learn the names of people who used fake identities trying to gain access to confidential research, including someone who posed as a Wall Street Journal reporter.
Muddy Waters Capital said the attempts to gain information began after it published a series of research reports regarding the French supermarket operator Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA between December 2015 and March 2016, according to a lawsuit filed in New York state court on Wednesday. Muddy Waters said these people communicated through Gmail, and it wants Google to disclose their names, addresses and contact information.
Muddy Waters began its campaign in 2015 and has said Casino is using financial engineering to mask a deterioration of its core retail business and that owner Rallye SA has too much debt - allegations that Casino has dismissed. Casino's shares have suffered amid the attack. Standard & Poor's cut Casino's debt rating last year.
Mudd…

SGX to cut down on unusual trading activity queries by half

The number of queries issued by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on unusual trading activity will be going down by half from Wednesday.
Tan Boon Gin, chief executive of SGX RegCo, the bourse's regulatory unit, told The Business Times that the move will eliminate unnecessary queries over what he dubs "noise" in the market.
"Markets view (queries) as a chilling effect on share prices," he said. "I'd rather issue fewer, higher quality queries, than a higher volume."
A new system, which goes live on Nov 1, will be calibrated such as to allow prices and volumes to increase a bit more before a query is issued.
The robustness of the regulatory regime will not be compromised, Mr Tan said.
"We backtested this to make sure, with the benefit of hindsight, those cases we properly queried will still be queried under the new system. It's only those cases that we didn't need to query that will be (cut) from the system. As far as we're concerned, we…

Proposed RTO unlikely to be silver bullet for Dragon Group

Could Armenian miner Coeur Gold Armenia get lucky on its third attempt to list on the Singapore Exchange through a reverse takeover?
Shareholders of struggling electronics engineering firm Dragon Group International will certainly hope so. But even if the reverse takeover deal works out, it is not clear if such a business will gain favour with investors here, especially with the scant information provided on Coeur Gold now.
Mainboard-listed Dragon Group announced on Oct 19 that it is acquiring Coeur Gold for S$500 million in shares and cash, in a reverse takeover. It has entered into a non-binding term sheet with businessman George Howard Richmond for the entire issued and paid-up share capital of Coeur Gold Armenia.
The announcement didn't provide more details on Coeur Gold beyond this: that it holds controlling interests in Vayk Gold LLC (VGL) and Vardani Zartong Ltd (VZL), which possess exploration rights to mine for gold, silver, antimony and copper in the Azatek and Sofi Bin…

Oei Hong Leong seeks to oust Raffles Education chairman Chew Hua Seng

Tycoon Oei Hong Leong has requisitioned an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to oust Raffles Education chairman Chew Hua Seng.
Mr Oei and his investment vehicle, Oei Hong Leong Art Museum Ltd, put in their request on Oct 21, Raffles Education announced on Thursday after the market closed.
Mr Oei is seeking to remove Mr Chew from his position and replace him with one of the independent directors who will serve as a non-executive chairman.
If none of the independent directors are willing to accept the appointment, Mr Oei seeks to direct the board to search for a suitable person to be appointed as a non-executive chairman.
Mr Oei also wants the company to disclose the identities of those who have received stock from and the number of shares issued to each of these people during a recent placement of 95 million shares.
The 95 million shares, which were issued and allotted on Tuesday at an issue price 30 Singapore cents, represent 8.96 per cent of the company's enlarged share capita…

Oei Hong Leong seeks ouster of Raffles Education chairman, Chew Hua Seng

Tycoon Oei Hong Leong, who has amassed a stake of more than 10 per cent in Raffles Education, wants a shareholders' meeting to remove its chairman Chew Hua Seng.
In a letter delivered to the board of directors yesterday, Mr Oei proposed that Mr Chew, who is also the firm's founder and chief executive, be replaced by an independent director and his employment be terminated.
If none of the independent directors wish to take the position, Mr Oei is proposing that the board search for a suitable replacement to assume the role of non-executive chairman.
Mr Chew declined to comment yesterday. He is the company's largest shareholder with a 33.58 per cent stake, after a recent placement exercise.
Mr Oei also wants Raffles Education to disclose the identities and the number of shares placed to each of the people who received stock in the placement exercise.
The letter furnished no details of what prompted the action, but Mr Oei is a long-time shareholder in Raffles Education, havi…

YuuZoo needs to show it can make money alongside governance gains

Yuuzoo Corp seems to be taking steps in the right direction when it comes to raising its corporate governance, but operational execution remains a persistent challenge at the social commerce business.
Without demonstrating any meaningful improvement in its core business, either in terms of actual usage or in terms of revenues, YuuZoo may have to incur significant impairments again this year when it reassesses the value of its franchisees.
YuuZoo made a number of moves over the past several months in an attempt to address criticism about its accounting practices and corporate governance.
The most significant was in June, when the company finally completed its annual audit for the year ended December 2016. That audit marked YuuZoo's adoption of more conservative accounting principles, especially in the way it recorded its revenues and valued the stakes that it held in its franchisees.
YuuZoo has since revealed plans to appoint an independent third party to investigate claims surrou…

SGX loosens some rules on remisiers to encourage new entrants

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is loosening some rules that will affect remisiers, as part of a raft of proposed changes on securities trading and market practices.
This is to encourage new entrants to the industry, it said.
Notably, SGX is proposing to remove a requirement that trading representatives (TRs) who work outside the office have to inform customers and SGX, and get customers' permission.
This is because off-premises broking is becoming more commonplace, and customers are getting accustomed to it.
Broking houses still have to disclose the "limitations of off-premises broking", SGX said.
Another rule that will be changed is the prescription that a broking house has to collect a S$30,000 minimum deposit from a remisier, and more if the volume of transactions is bigger.
SGX is proposing to remove the minimum amount prescription, noting that it will give broking houses more flexibility to determine what the appropriate amount is.
"The removal of the minimum su…

Alliance Mineral CEO: Better terms in latest agreement with Burwill

Catalist-lilsted Alliance Mineral Assets Ltd got much better terms in its recently concluded renegotiations with Burwill Commodity which is also funding and taking an equity stake in the lithium mining company in Western Australian, said its CEO.
The company got more "lenient" terms from Burwill in the commercial re-negotiation, said Tjandra Pramoko, Alliance Mineral chief executive who flew to Singapore to speak to The Business Times on Monday.
Last week, Alliance Mineral said that it was placing A$19.575 million (S$20.8 million) of shares to Burwill Commodity as its auditor flagged uncertainty about its ability to operate as a going concern if it were unable to raise more funds.
The auditor, Ernst & Young, noted that the firm incurred a loss after tax of US$4.8 million for the past financial year, and experienced net cash outflows from operating activities of US$1.91 million. It had cash and restricted cash of US$9.08 million as at Sept 28.
The company's cashflow …