Axington, linked to Bellagraph Nova group in Newcastle bid, extends rights issue period

Axington's controlling shareholders are cousins Terence Loh (left) and Nelson Loh.
Axington's controlling shareholders are cousins Terence Loh (left) and Nelson Loh.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - The two-member board of Axington Inc has extended the offer period for a proposed rights issue as it awaits "further clarity" from the firm's controlling shareholders, who are also owners of the controversial firm that made a bid for English Premier League football club Newcastle United.

The Catalist-listed company had said on Sept 3 that it "intends for the rights issue to proceed as per the timetable", despite the exodus of five directors.

But in a filing with the Singapore Exchange (SGX) late on Sunday night (Sept 6), it announced the extension following inquiries from SGX and in order "to avoid limiting possibilities".

The board noted that Axington shares have continued to be voluntarily suspended since Aug 31, pending news of strategic changes to be made in the company's business direction.

As a result, Axington intends to, among others, re-commence trading of the "nil-paid" rights that was due to end on Sept 3, and extend the Sept 9 closing date for acceptance and payment of all rights shares until the suspension has been lifted and the shares resume trading, the board said.

The extension will provide shareholders with time to consider the action they should take, and the opportunity to trade in the "nil-paid" rights after the stock resumes trading and prior to making any acceptance and/or application for the rights shares and excess rights shares, it added.

Further announcements on the extension and the rights issue will be made by the company as and when appropriate, it said.

"As part of a holistic assessment of recent developments, and while pending the company receiving further clarity from the controlling shareholders, the board continues to assess all possibilities in the best interests of the company," the board added.

Axington's controlling shareholders are cousins Nelson Loh and Terence Loh. The Lohs and business partner Evangeline Shen are co-founders of the Singapore-registered Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group, which grabbed headlines last month by announcing a bid for Newcastle United.

But the company became mired in controversy because of revelations ranging from doctored images showing former United States president Barack Obama to inconsistencies in claims and retracted press statements.

Ms Shen, a lawyer and jewellery merchant, resigned on Sept 2 as Axington's chairman, along with three other directors, a week after former US ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar quit the board.

 
 
 

After the Lohs took over the company in July this year, Axington announced a plan to change its core business from professional advisory services to providing medical and consumer wellness services, and investments in areas like robotics and artificial intelligence technology.

On July 29, the firm proposed a non-underwritten rights issue of up to 95.2 million new ordinary shares at 10 cents per share, on a one-for-two basis, to raise an estimated $9.4 million for business investments and acquisitions and general working capital.

It said then that the Lohs' company, Dorr Global Healthcare, had given an irrevocable undertaking to subscribe and pay in full for its entitlement of 74.2 million rights shares - or 77.9 per cent of the issue - and subscribe and pay in full for all remaining rights shares not taken up by other shareholders.