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Showing posts from 2018

'I was vindicated a long time ago,' says Iceberg's Arnaud on Noble probe

Iceberg Research's Arnaud Vagner ought to be having his moment now, after three years of tirelessly slamming the Noble Group and being called a "disgruntled" ex-employee (a label he disputes).
Now that Noble's relisting has been called off on the back of a probe by the Singapore authorities into uncertainties in its financial position, the French national appears more pleased about being able to move on and "expose" other targets.
Asked by The Business Times what was next for him, he replied in the phone interview: "The next step now is to do my job with other companies ... move on from this very time-consuming story."
He said that the ongoing, unprecedented probe into the Noble also "opens the door" for the legal challenge being organised by Iceberg Research against Noble to take place in Singapore instead of in the UK.
"It's something for the lawyers to decide...whether to come to Singapore or not. UK still remains an option,…

Noble plans to complete restructuring via alternative process

Commodity trader Noble Group intends to press on with its restructuring through an alternative process, and may be seeking court-appointed administration, it said in a statement yesterday.
This comes a day after the authorities here refused to allow the embattled company to transfer its listing status to New Noble as part of its US$3.5 billion (S$4.8 billion) debt restructuring plan, citing potentially inflated assets.
In a filing to the Singapore Exchange, Noble said it is disputing Singapore regulators' allegations of improper accounting, and intends to submit a "comprehensive response" to assessments and questions by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra).
Regulators started investigating Noble two weeks ago for suspected false and misleading statements and breaches of disclosure requirements.
Yesterday, Noble said it plans to complete its restructuring to "preserve value for all stakeholders", but in a way that does not involve the transf…
Commodities trader Noble Group is disputing allegations of possible accounting irregularities by regulators, who have relied on those potential inaccuracies to block a key step in the company's restructuring plans.
Noble, in a filing to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Friday, defended some of its accounting practices that it said had been challenged by Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra). The issues highlighted included its derivative treatment of variable marketing contracts, its recognition of gains and losses, its treatment of overhead costs and its classification of current and non-current assets.
The company said that it will submit a comprehensive response to Acra's assessments and questions.
Noble also said that investigations by Singapore authorities are not targeting any individuals from the company.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), one of the three regulators involved in the probe, told The Business Times (BT) that its scru…

Best World COO lauds new China strategy as share price surges

Best World International has begun to see the benefits of changing its business model in China, and is making positive progress in other key markets, the company's chief operating officer told The Business Times.
Those comments came as shares of the skincare maker and distributor reached a record high on Friday to extend a months-long run.
On the stock market, the counter added seven Singapore cents or 2.8 per cent to S$2.59, as more than 3.3 million shares traded hands. The stock has risen 97 per cent year-to-date, nearly doubling in value.
"I guess it's got to do with the fundamentals," Best World's Huang Ban Chin said in a phone interview.
"We don't really pay too much attention to the share price but I believe it's because we have commenced our franchise business model which is a replacement for our previous export model (in China)."
He said that the company's third-quarter net profit of S$29.9 million - a 145 per cent year-on-year incr…

Noble - too much faith in a ‘clean’ audit?

Singapore authorities finally took action on Tuesday to probe locally listed Noble Group, more than three years after the first reports of accounting irregularities surfaced at the Hong Kong-based commodities trader.
Explaining why it took three years before they commenced investigations, Singapore’s white-collar crime buster Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) said there had been no reasonable grounds to move in, until recently.
This does not mean they have not been doing anything. The three bodies had been working together since 2015, when Iceberg Research first flagged potential irregularities and questionable accounting practices at Noble, and when US short-seller Muddy Waters weighed in, questioning Noble’s finances and unsustainable debt levels. All allegations and claims were denied by Noble, which boasted of clean audit opinions issued by auditors from 2014 to 2016. While r…

Noble's restructuring hangs in the balance amid investigations

One day after Singapore regulators launched an unprecedented tripartite probe into troubled Noble Group for suspected breaches of securities laws and accounting practices, there appears no clarity on whether the commodity group will be able to forge ahead with its hard-fought debt rescue plan or it risks being upended.
Noble, for one, seemed confident, stating in an early Wednesday announcement that the proposed restructuring is in the best interests of all stakeholders and that it will work towards implementing it "within the previously disclosed timelines".
That may be overly optimistic as the new Noble - a crunched down version of old Noble that was once Asia's top commodity trader but sold billions of dollars of assets as it tottered on hefty debts - is expected to be listed in less than a week on the Singapore Exchange, an event that was set to mark the fruition of a protracted and acrimonious US$3.5 billion debt revamp to save the Hong Kong-based firm.
"It…

SGX tells Innopac to engage valuer for businesses it plans to sell

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has ordered Innopac Holdings' audit committee to engage a reputable valuer to assess businesses that the company plans to sell at a sharp discount to their potential net tangible value, Innopac said in an exchange filing on Thursday.
Innopac, an investment holding company, said in October that it would dispose of its stakes in a number of businesses to Innopac chief executive Wong Chin Yong for S$100,000. In response to SGX queries, Innopac said on Nov 5 that it would not engage a valuer due to cost issues.
But in a fresh round of queries, SGX raised concerns about how Innopac was valuing the businesses being sold. Two of those businesses, Wang Da Investments and Heritage Corp, have a net tangible liability of S$11.45 million. The rest of the businesses that are being sold, including a microalgae joint venture, have a total net tangible asset (NTA) value of S$9.16 million. If Innopac liquidated Wang Da and Heritage instead of selling them with the oth…

SGX orders Innopac to engage valuer on businesses it plans to sell

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has ordered Innopac Holdings' audit committee to engage a reputable valuer to assess businesses that the company plans to sell at a sharp discount to their potential net tangible value.
In October, Innopac, an investment holding company, said that it would dispose of its stakes in a number of businesses to Innopac chief executive Wong Chin Yong for S$100,000. On Nov 5, Innopac said in response to SGX queries that it would not engage a valuer due to costs.
But in a fresh round of queries, SGX raised concerns about how Innopac was valuing the businesses being sold. Two of those businesses, Wang Da Investents and Heritage Corp, have a net tangible liability (NTL) of S$11.45 million. The rest of the businesses that are being sold, including a microalgae joint venture, have a total net tangible asset (NTA) value of S$9.16 million. If Innopac liquidated Wang Da and Heritage instead of selling them with the other businesses, it would not have to offset the o…

SGX moves to T+2 securities settlement cycle starting Dec 10

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) will launch a new securities settlement and depository framework and system on Dec 10, which will reduce settlement cycles from three to two days (T+2) and enable simultaneous settlement of money and securities.
In a press release on Tuesday, SGX said that the T+2 settlement cycle will synchronise the Singapore bourse with global markets including Australia, the European Union, Hong Kong and the US.
"Come Dec 10, we will align our securities clearing and settlement processes with global standards, strengthening Singapore's position as an international financial centre," said Chew Sutat, executive vice-president and head of equities and fixed income at SGX.
"With the new settlement and depository framework, securities and funds will be made available to investors earlier, while reducing risks across systems and markets. Our new system will also enable us and our securities members to enhance services for the market."
Improvements in…

SGX Regco proposes to raise safeguards on voluntary delisting rules

SINGAPORE Exchange Regulation (SGX Regco) is proposing to disallow offerors and parties acting in concert from voting on voluntary delistings and with that, to lower the approval threshold from 75 per cent to a simple majority of independent shareholders.
The proposed changes - aimed at better aligning the interests of all parties and chiefly to safeguard minority interests - also include scrapping the 10 per cent block provision. Under this provision, a delisting will not proceed if it is voted against by those who hold more than 10 per cent).
In a media briefing, SGX Regco chief executive Tan Boon Gin admitted that the episode involving Vard Holdings had catalysed the need for such changes as it underscored the “constraints” in the existing safeguards.
“What the Vard case illustrates is that if a company has inactive minority investors, then the safeguards work against minorities and work in favour of the offeror. We realise that this needed our attention and had to be rectified,” …

SGX imposes fine, education programme on UOBKH trader for misconduct

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Thursday issued a circular saying that its Disciplinary Committee had, on Sept 6, heard four charges against UOB Kay Hian (UOBKH) trading representative Seow Jin Yuan Reymond for contravening exchange rules.
Mr Seow, unrepresented by legal counsel at the hearing, took on the case himself.
The first charge alleged that in March and April 2017, he failed to follow the principles of good business practice in the conduct of his business affairs, and executed pre-arranged trades in the shares of GSH Corporation in the unit share market.
On March 28 for instance, he pre-arranged for the buy orders of an unnamed entity to be fully matched with the sell orders of his elder brother, resulting in the execution of 100,000 GSH shares at the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of S$0.565.
On April 4, he again pre-arranged for the buy orders of the unnamed entity to be fully matched with the sell orders of his brother. This involved transacting 230,000 GSH shares …

ISR Capital gets approval for acquisition of mining asset

ISR CAPITAL’S long-drawn-out proposed acquisition of a rare-earth mining asset - in the works since June two years ago - is finally making progress, with shareholder approval on Tuesday.
At an extraordinary general meeting, 100 per cent of over 760 million shareholder votes were cast in favour of the acquisition of a 60 per cent stake in Tantalum Holding (Mauritius) (THM), which fully owns Tantalum Rare Earth Malagasy SARLU (TREM). The latter has an exploration licence for a rare-earth mining concession in Madagascar.
ISR is acquiring the stake from REO Magnetic, a Singapore-registered private company, by issuing 747 million new shares, assigning a value of 0.4 Singapore cents to each of those shares for a deal valuation of S$3 million. But clarity is still wanting in various aspects, from the benefits of the deal to the direction of the company.
On when the company would start turning a profit, executive chairman Chen Tong predicted three years. This is based first on TREM’s explora…

In Singapore, it's not margin calls brokerages worry about

Brokerage heads do not foresee a significant jump in forced selling or contra losses even if the market takes a turn for the worst, as high rollers are dwindling in number and simply more cautious than they used to be.
In fact, margin calls are the furthest concern for stockbroking firms here today, as retail participation in the Singapore market stays muted, whether share prices are falling, rising, or going nowhere at all.
Kenny Lo, Maybank Kim Eng's head of retail brokerage Singapore and regional head of products and services, told The Business Times: "Retail interest in the Singapore market has been declining and has hit multi-year lows this year. As a result, there has been a gradual decline in contra trading."
Besides, the house has risk management and credit policies in place to manage market volatility, he said.
Esmond Choo, senior executive director at UOB Kay Hian, agreed: "Contra trading generally thrives in bull market conditions. Under bear market cond…

SGX, investors should get ready now for next upturn in shipping cycle

Some market watchers were surprised when South Korea's dry bulk play Polaris Shipping indicated in September it is looking to pursue a public listing on the Singapore Exchange (SGX). One trade journal deemed Singapore as "an unconventional choice", considering Polaris Shipping may enjoy greater liquidity if it floats on its home exchange.
Yet, while shipping stocks aren't actively traded in Singapore, they aren't hot elsewhere either. Stock valuations in the broader maritime sector have generally languished amid a protracted sector-wide downturn, afflicting both the conventional shipping and offshore and marine (O&M) segments.
In Singapore, the market capitalisations of shipping and offshore counters are mostly well below S$1 billion. SGX data shows that the combined market cap of a dozen listed shipping counters worked out to just US$3.9 billion and that of 35 offshore services counters stood at only US$2.4 billion as at Oct 5.
The soft shipping equity mark…

Control of Innopac changes hand after S$8.4m placement

INNOPAC Holdings on Tuesday announced an S$8.4 million stock placement that will result in a change of control, as well as a related disposal of five subsidiaries and a S$2.5 million secured loan facility.
The investment holding company said it will place 8.4 billion new shares at 0.1 Singapore cent apiece to 11 individual investors. The new shares will represent about 65 per cent of Innopac's enlarged share capital.
The largest investors in the placement are Choo Beng Kai, managing director of Malaysian investment holding company Masmeyer Holdings, and Lim Soon Huat, executive chairman of Malaysia-listed Asia File Corp.
Mr Choo will hold a 19.4 per cent stake in Innopac after the placement, and Mr Lim will control a 15.6 per cent interes. They will together be considered the new controlling shareholders of the company.
Of the S$7.95 milion in net proceeds, Innopac will use about S$3.95 million to develop existing investments, new business investments and acquisitions; S$1.5 mill…

MAS slaps 5-year prohibition order on former CIMB banker for insider trading

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued a five-year prohibition order against a former vice-president of CIMB Bank Bhd, Alan Tay Yeow Kee, for insider trading, it said on Tuesday.
In 2011, Mr Tay arranged for another person to purchase on his behalf the shares of two listed companies, Qualitas Medical Group Ltd and Leeden Ltd. Mr Tay did this while in possession of "non-public and price sensitive" information that both companies had received takeover offers. He had obtained the inside information by virtue of his position in CIMB.
Mr Tay made a profit of around S$30,000 from the shares purchased with the privileged information.
In May 2017, Mr Tay was convicted on three charges under the Securities and Futures Act for insider trading. Three other charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. He was fined S$180,000.
Under the prohibition order, Mr Tay will be prohibited from carrying out any regulated activities and from taking part in the…

MAS joining the dots on illicit fund flows with data analytics

Regulator also flags risks of financial exclusion as some ex-offenders being denied banking services
ONLY connect.
This perhaps sums up the potential behind the use of data analytics and information-sharing within the financial industry in combating financial crime, with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) looking to ramp up efforts in this area.
Speaking at a financial crime seminar held by the Association of Banks in Singapore, Ho Hern Shin, MAS' assistant managing director of the banking and insurance group, said the regulator has applied data analytics to the suspicious transaction reports (STRs), of which there are more than 25,000 annually. These STRs are flagged by the financial institutions due to suspicions over illicit fund flows.
"Applying data analytics to this data set has enabled us to identify suspicious fund-flow networks, and focus our supervisory attention on networks of higher-risk accounts, entities or activities," she said.
MAS will also glean…

Abterra suspends trading after SGX turns down request to delay AGM

Mineral and resources company Abterra was suspended from trading on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Monday morning, after its request for an extension on time to hold its annual general meeting was rejected by the bourse operator in a letter received on July 13.
Abterra had asked in April to push back the meeting deadline by four months, to Aug 31 at the latest, after Mazars LLP sought to resign as the company's statutory auditors while citing outstanding audit matters at a 51 per cent-owned Abterra subsidiary.
But the SGX "noted that sufficient time had passed since the announcement was made and there continues to be no certainty on the timeline" for the appointment of new auditors, the finalisation of audited statements for the year to end-Dec 2017, and the convening of the annual general meeting, Abterra's board of directors has now said.
The counter will remain suspended until the SGX is satisfied that the company is complying with the requirement to hold an ann…

Magnus Energy to place 2.53b new shares to raise S$2.28m

Magnus Energy is placing out 2.53 billion new shares at 0.09 Singapore cent apiece to four parties to raise S$2.28 million in cash.
The four individuals are Lee Thiam Seng, Ong Boon Tiong Daniel, Low Chin Yen and Liu Bin. According to the company's filing to the Singapore Exchange, they are "private investors who have expressed their interest in taking up new shares in the company for investment purposes".
The issue price represents a discount of approximately 10 per cent to the volume-weighted average price of S$0.001 for trades done on June 28, the last full market day with trade preceding the date on which the subscription agreement was signed.
Magnus Energy's rationale is to strengthen its financial and working capital position. The company intends to use the net proceeds for general working capital for corporate expenditures, and as funds for a microalgae oil cultivation project.
The shares represent approximately 20.05 per cent of the total number of issued sh…

Innopac receives letter of demand on negative balances of accounts maintained by 2 subsidiaries

InnoPac Holdings on Wednesday said it received a letter of demand from Saxo Bank, which is seeking a payment of S$14.69 million on negative balances under accounts maintained by two of Innopac's subsidiaries - Heritage Investment Corporation and Wang Da Investment. The letter of demand, dated June 1, was sent on behalf of the Danish bank by Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.
In a filing with the Singapore Exchange, Innopac said that the Danish bank alleges the company is liable for the claim on the purported basis of a Memorandum of Understanding dated Dec 24, 2013 despite the said negative account balances being incurred by the subsidiaries without any guarantee by Innopac.
The company added that at present, no legal proceedings have been commenced by Saxo against Innopac, and "the group will be evaluating the basis and merits of the claim and will take appropriate action accordingly".
Pending the resolution of the claim, the board is of the view that the company is unab…

Magnus Energy confirms former MD's lawsuit

Charles Madhavan's suing over wrongful termination; company yet to address other concerns raised by him


Almost a month after Magnus Energy parted ways with its newly appointed managing director and disclosed that the executive raised concerns about past transactions, the company has yet to tell shareholders what those concerns involved.
In an announcement on Monday, Magnus said Charles Madhavan had on June 22 served the company a writ of summons in relation to his claim for wrongful termination.
Mr Madhavan had raised questions about loans made by the company; a loan from chief executive Luke Ho; and a luxury car bought for a key management personnel.
Magnus announced on May 28 the cessation of Mr Madhavan in his executive role, citing "differences with management and board".
The Catalist-listed company, whose core business is in oilfield equipment supplies and services, also said at the time that Mr Madhavan had highlighted to the company's sponsor, Stamford Corpor…