HTL International halted trading as unusual price movement drew SGX scrutiny

SGX issued a third query to HTL in five months over unusual price movement.
SGX issued a third query to HTL in five months over unusual price movement.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - HTL International Holdings halted its trading on Tuesday (April 26) as it drew another query from Singapore Exchange (SGX) over unusual price movement.

Shares of the furniture manufacturer have put on around 250 per cent since mid-October to 86 Singapore cents on Tuesday, when HLT shares added another 6.83 per cent by noon against the selloff in the larger market.

This prompted SGX to issue the third query to HTL in five months, and the company halted its share trading at around 11:30 a.m local time, to issue a response that claimed it was not aware of any unannounced information that could trigger the frenzy, aside from the news of its potential acquisition by a Guangdong Yihua Timber Industry.

The deal was first revealed in October last year, with Yihua now in advanced talks to acquire HTL through its subsidiary Ideal Homes International.

HTL then requested to lift the trading halt at 3pm, following the response to SGX.

This brief exchange came days after regulators including the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Commercial Affairs Department rattled the market with a series of raid on several broker firms potentially over market manipulation.

The crack-down on dubious trading activities - the largest such action since the penny stock crash in 2013 - sent out the message that regulators are ready to tighten their oversight on market order.

Commenting on the raid, SGX said it highlighted nine cases for regulatory actions in the first quarter this year, but declined to share more details on the investigation.

whwong@sph.com.sg