Don't let S'pore be playground for short-sellers

The Singapore stock market has come under attack from short-sellers in recent months ("The long, vice-like arm of short-sellers"; June 15).

Will there be more once these short-sellers have tasted success? Such activities have a huge impact on small-time investors.

For example, Noble Group's share price has fallen by 40 per cent since being attacked by Iceberg Research in February ("Noble rejects improper accounting claims as stock plunges"; Feb 17).

This has also caused the stock to be downgraded and will send future funding costs higher.

This will, in turn, affect the profitability of the company, hence further lowering its stock price.

It will also take time for the company to refute claims by the short-seller, which in the meantime leads to confusion and panic selling by small-time investors - something the short-seller wants to achieve.

If the situation is not addressed, we will see a loss of confidence in the stock exchange, which will affect other stocks that are not under attack.

I hope that the authorities can take measures to prevent Singapore from turning into a playground for short-sellers.

One option is to impose an automatic suspension on trading of a stock once its price has fallen by a certain percentage, or the shorting of stock has increased to a certain percentage.

During this period, the company must address the situation and explain its action plan, with the authorities bringing both parties - the company and short-seller - into an open debate.

Leong Kok Seng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'Don't let S'pore be playground for short-sellers'. Print Edition | Subscribe