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Showing posts from 2019

Cash-flush buyers taking billions off Singapore bourse via privatisations

Privatisation has picked up pace this year, and is likely to continue, as acquirers - strategic investors, private equity firms and entrepreneurs - continue to target listed corporates.
There have been about a dozen ongoing and completed takeout offers this year, mostly concentrated in the unloved small- to mid-cap space that is struggling with industry disruption, diminishing free float, and poor trading interest.
Their aggregate market cap adds up to close to S$5 billion - albeit still a stretch to beat 2018's figure, which included Global Logistic Properties' record S$16 billion privatisation deal.
Atin Kukreja, CEO of financial advisory firm Rippledot, cites low valuations, poor trading liquidity, strong corporate balance sheets, and cheap funding as the prime drivers behind the trend.
"Liquidity and trading volume in the equity market is low, but they are high in the debt market. With the interest rate environment still benign, acquirers are able to find opportunities to…

SembMarine says recovery for firm could come later this year or 2020

Sembcorp Marine chairman Mohd Hassan Marican at Tuesday's annual general meeting flagged that the company may be approaching the bottom of "a very long downcycle", and recovery could come as soon as later this year or in 2020.
He also stressed that the group has shifted from fabrication and pure construction work to gradually becoming a marine engineering solutions provider, with a bias towards gas solutions.
It is now doing higher-value work such as developing engineering solutions for more demanding environments, and this will be supported by its new facilities at Tuas Boulevard Yard, which has the infrastructure to allow the group faster turnaround of vessels, and larger dry docks that can do more complex jobs. "What we couldn't do before, we can now do in Tuas," he said.
The group is currently head-quartered at Tanjong Kling. Asked by shareholders about the group's slim S$3 million gross profit and S$74 million net losses incurred in FY18, Mr Marican e…

Witness admits to ‘front running’ practices in Singapore penny stock crash trial

The first witness of the trial over 2013 penny stock crash which mopped out S$8 billion (RM24 billion) from the Singapore share market today admitted that he had practiced “front running” while placing share orders.
It is understood that “front running” is a prohibited practice of entering into an equity trade to capitalise on advance knowledge of a large pending transaction that will influence the price of the underlying security.
Ng Kit Kiat, a remisier with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Securities Pte Ltd (OSPL) since 2000, admitted doing it using his wife account after receiving trading instructions from Quah Su-Ling, one of the accused person.
The admission was made by Ng while he was cross-examined by Quah’s counsel Philip Fong Yeng Fatt of Eversheds Harry Elias LLP on the fourth day of the trial before High Court Judge Hoo Sheau Peng.
Fong highlighted two occasions in 2013 in which Ng had placed orders ahead of orders for similar stocks instructed by Quah and another accused …

Quah Su-Ling's lawyer accuses prosecution witness of 'inventing evidence', front-running

The drama continues in Day Four of the trial of John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling as Quah’s defence counsel accused the prosecution’s first witness of “inventing evidence” and engaging in the practice of front-running.
Continuing in his cross-examination of OCBC Securities remisier Ng Kit Kiat, Quah’s lawyer Philip Fong in court on Friday homed in on the daily trade reports Ng sent via SMS to Soh and Quah.
Fong put forward that trade summaries are meant to provide an accurate picture of the trades that were executed. But pointing out certain errors in some of these SMSes, he argued that Ng’s reports were “inaccurate”.
Ng conceded that some of these mistakes could have been due to “typo error”. “My clients are very, very smart people,” Ng replied. “They would know these are typo mistake.”
Fong also pointed out that these daily SMS reports were “incomplete” and did not include all the information of trades carried out. For instance, Fong said, information of sell trades executed had been l…

Remisier concedes front-running before executing trading instructions from defendant

An OCBC Securities remisier said during the ongoing penny stocks trial that market intelligence shared between brokers and clients, who then acted on the information, could push up share prices.
The prosecution witness also conceded under cross-examination on Friday that he had front-run instructions from one of the accused, Quah Su-Ling, 54.
Remisier Ng Kit Kiat has earlier told the court that he took instructions from Quah and her co-accused John Soh Chee Wen on trades of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital (now Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp, collectively known as BAL from August 2012 to Oct 3, 2013.
Quah and 59-year-old Soh are said to have controlled a web of 189 accounts to manipulate the market for the BAL counters, and used intermediaries and brokers like Mr Ng to operate the scheme.
On Friday, the fourth day of the joint trial of the two accused, Quah's lawyer, Philip Fong, placed a spotlight on the flow of information in the market. Under questioning, Mr Ng agreed with Mr Fong…

Investigating officer coached witness on statement, says defendant's lawyer

THE lawyer for John Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind in the ongoing penny stocks trial, on Thursday argued that the prosecution's first witness was coached by the investigating officer (IO).
Senior Counsel N Sreenivasan, in his cross-examination of OCBC Securities remisier Ng Kit Kiat, queried the witness about his statement, in which he fingered 59-year-old Soh and co-defendant Quah Su-Ling as the ones placing unauthorised trades for accounts that belonged to a few other individuals, including Quah's mother.
Quah, 54, is former chief executive of Ipco International (now renamed Renaissance United).
Mr Ng said in the statement that it is likely that calls to his mobile phone from August 2012 to October 2013 contained trade instructions from the duo for the nominees' accounts.
Mr Sreenivasan focused on the word "nominees", and got Mr Ng to confirm that the word was used by the IO and not the witness.
Mr Ng initially said he did not think using the word "nomine…

Soh, Quah performed unauthorised trades in nominee accounts: OCBC Securities remisier

OCBC Securities remisier Ng Kit Kiat testified on Wednesday that he took unauthorised trade orders from John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling, who are now standing trial in the High Court over alleged manipulation of three penny stocks Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp, collectively known as BAL.
Both Malaysians, Soh and Quah are accused of orchestrating a manipulation scheme from August 2012 to October 2013, by placinghundreds of thousands of trades through an extensive web of 189 trading accounts in the names of 60 individuals (including Quah herself) and corporations related in one way or another to the duo, co-accused Goh Hin Calm or the three companies involved in the case but controlled by Soh and Quah.
Mr Ng, the first prosecution witness to take the stand, took the court through how he became the broker of former Ipco Internationalchief executive Quah. After that, she referred her mother, her subordinate Goh and LionGold's then-independent director Ng Su Ling to…

Penny scandal: Trial of alleged masterminds begins

SINGAPORE prosecutors opened the trial for Malaysian businessman John Soh Chee Wen and former Ipco International chief executive Quah Su-Ling on Monday, accusing the pair of masterminding a massive stock manipulation scheme that collapsed in the penny stock crash of October 2013.
Describing the case as the "most serious case of stock market manipulation in Singapore", the prosecution told the Court that Soh and Quah drove up the share prices of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp – known collectively as BAL – in the year leading up to the crash. They did so by "wash trading" shares of the three stocks within a secret web of 189 trading accounts held in the names of 60 individuals and companies, the prosecution said. Asiasons is now known as Attilan Group.
Those controlled accounts were behind 60 per cent of Blumont trades; 88 per cent of the trades in Asiasons shares; and 90 per cent of LionGold trades during the periods investigated, the prosecution sa…

Singapore's $8b penny stock crash: Goh Hin Calm jailed 36 months for abetment

One of the three people implicated in the 2013 penny stock crash that wiped out $8 billion from the Singapore stock market was sentenced on Wednesday (March 20) to 36 months' jail for abetment in manipulating the stocks of three companies.
Former interim Ipco International chief executive Goh Hin Calm, who was charged with abetment in manipulating the stocks of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp, had pleaded guilty to two of six charges of abetment earlier on Wednesday. Four other charges were taken into consideration.
He was sentenced to 36 months' jail for each charge, and both sentences will run concurrently. His prison term starts immediately.
Those counters rocketed more than 800 per cent in a span of nine months before crashing on Oct 4, 2013, triggering a rout of penny stocks on the Singapore Exchange.
Goh's decision to plead guilty has sparked speculation over whether he will turn prosecution witness ahead of the keenly-awaited trial of alleged penny …

Goh Hin Calm gets 3 years for role in trading conspiracy

One of the three defendants in the penny stock case was sentenced to three years' jail on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to abetting in the "most audacious, extensive and injurious market manipulation scheme ever in Singapore" involving three counters that saw S$8 billion in market value evaporating in 2013.
Former Ipco International interim chief executive Goh Hin Calm, 59, was handed the three-year imprisonment term by High Court Judge See Kee Oon after he pleaded guilty to two charges of intentionally aiding his ex-boss Quah Su-Ling and alleged mastermind John Soh Chee Wen in a conspiracy to artificially inflate the share prices of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital (now Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp - collectively known as BAL.
Justice See said in sentencing Goh: "I do not accept that his role was peripheral, much less that he was 'completely dispensable' (as the defence claims) to the scheme. He was clearly entrusted with some authority and powers of o…

MAS out to identify cases of tardy corporate disclosure

The Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) enforcement department is taking a closer look into whether listed companies here have been tardy in disclosing corporate information in recent times.
It named this as its focus upon the release of its first enforcement report on Wednesday, which lists the penalties and censures imposed on financial institutions, traders and financial advisers for infractions committed between July 2017 and December 2018.
Over those 18 months, S$16.8 million in financial penalties and settlements were imposed on 42 financial institutions here, based on investigations led by the MAS. The fines come alongside action taken against various forms of misconduct; there was a criminal conviction for false trading, S$698,000 in civil penalties for misconduct in trading, 19 prohibition orders that bar individuals from working in the financial industry, and 223 warnings.
The enforcement department also works with other regulators in Singapore and those abroad. Betwee…

Penny scandal: Brokers lost S$350m; ex-IPCO exec to serve 3 years in prison

THE 2013 penny stock crash has pummeled the brokerages used by the alleged perpetrators with more than S$350 million of unpaid losses, Singapore prosecutors said on Wednesday at the hearing of the first of three defendants.
The prosecution painted the accused, Goh Hin Calm, as a “seed funder and finance manager” who helped co-defendants John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling to control a web of 189 trading accounts that were used to drive up the share prices of Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold Corp in 2013. Asiasons is now called Attilan Group.
Goh, in a white, long-sleeved shirt and without displaying any outward emotion, pleaded guilty to two charges of abetment. Justice See Kee Oon sentenced Goh, a former interim chief executive of IPCO International, on Wednesday to three years in prison.
Goh faced a maximum penalty of S$250,000 in fines and seven years in prison for each charge.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Tan sought two concurrent three-year prison terms – one for each…

Singapore's $8b penny stock crash: Goh Hin Calm jailed 36 months for abetment

One of the three people implicated in the 2013 penny stock crash that wiped out $8 billion from the Singapore stock market was sentenced on Wednesday (March 20) to 36 months' jail for abetment in manipulating the stocks of three companies.
Former interim Ipco International chief executive Goh Hin Calm, who was charged with abetment in manipulating the stocks of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp, had pleaded guilty to two of six charges of abetment earlier on Wednesday. Four other charges were taken into consideration.
He was sentenced to 36 months' jail for each charge, and both sentences will run concurrently. His prison term starts immediately.
Those counters rocketed more than 800 per cent in a span of nine months before crashing on Oct 4, 2013, triggering a rout of penny stocks on the Singapore Exchange.
Goh's decision to plead guilty has sparked speculation over whether he will turn prosecution witness ahead of the keenly-awaited trial of alleged penny …

YuuZoo quits office with unsettled rents; CEO resigns over unpaid salary

More trouble appears to be brewing at YuuZoo Networks Group Corp (formerly YuuZoo Corporation) as the social media company vacates its flagship office at the iconic 20 Science Park Road, Teletech Park, in Singapore without settling its rent.
This comes several days after its chief executive officer of barely a year, Mohandas - who goes by one name - resigned due to unpaid salary, The Business Times (BT) understands.
Late Friday, BT visited YuuZoo's office on the third floor of Teletech Park, a building designed by the late Kenzo Tange for telecom research and development firms. But the doors were locked, with a couple of notices pasted on them.
In the notices addressed to Yuuzoonow! Pte Ltd, landlord Ascendas Singbridge informed the indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of YuuZoo that it was in breach of its obligations as a tenant.
"Amongst other obligations, the rent, service charge and other sums due to us have remained unpaid for at least seven (7) days after becoming payable,'…

Best World shares fall 18.45% in heavy volume as trading resumes

Best World International shares plunged 50 Singapore cents or 18.45 per cent to finish at S$2.21 on Monday after trading resumed following a halt that lasted almost five days last week.
Heavy selling ensued with some 29.5 million shares changing hands as investors mulled over Best World's rapid expansion in China, which had underpinned its high valuations.
The direct-selling company, which also sells premium skincare products to franchisees in China, said over the weekend that it will order an independent review of its business and accounting practices, after The Business Times raised questions about the lack of clarity on how its franchisees operate in China.
Best World said it has conducted its business ethically and in compliance with applicable laws, but "is not responsible for the accounting and sales records of the franchisees, who are independent third parties".
In any case, it has decided to voluntarily hire an independent reviewer to address the issues and provide a…