Hutchison Port Holdings Trust dropped from STI

Hutchison Port Trust Holdings' container terminal in Hong Kong. Its removal from the Straits Times Index marks the end of an era for the Li Ka Shing-backed container port trust, whose initial public offering in 2011 was among the biggest that year.
Hutchison Port Trust Holdings' container terminal in Hong Kong. Its removal from the Straits Times Index marks the end of an era for the Li Ka Shing-backed container port trust, whose initial public offering in 2011 was among the biggest that year.PHOTO: HPH TRUST

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (HPHT) will be removed from Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) after a dramatic fall in its market value amid rising global trade tensions, the index provider said in a statement.

The move marks the end of an era for the Li Ka Shing-backed container port trust in Hong Kong, whose initial public offering (IPO) in 2011 was among the biggest that year.

Its market capitalisation has dropped 84 per cent since the IPO to around US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion), the worst among the 30 constituents of the STI, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The decline was accompanied by falling operating income since 2016 due to weakened trade demand.

Hong Kong, once the world's busiest container port, has lost volumes to its neighbours in the last two decades and has slipped in global rankings to seventh place last year, falling behind Shanghai, Singapore, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Busan. The city has been handling fewer boxes every month since October 2017.

A prolonged Sino-America trade war and one of the worst protests in Hong Kong since the 1997 handover mean the situation could worsen.

OCBC analyst Chu Peng - who expected the removal of the stock from the index - has reduced his price target on the counter to 17 US cents from 22 US cents while keeping a hold rating given that the US-China trade war will result in high volatility in the share price.

The stock currently has zero buy, four hold and two sell ratings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Hutchison Port operates container terminals in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, as well as river terminals in Guangdong. Mr Li's CK Hutchison Holdings owns 30.07 per cent of Hutchison Port through its affiliates, and Hutchison Port Group Holdings holds 27.6 per cent, according to the 2018 annual report of the Singapore-listed company. Temasek holds 14.02 per cent via subsidiaries and associated companies, such as PSA International.

Aside from the removal of HPHT, Mapletree Commercial Trust will be added to the STI following a quarterly review this month, FTSE Russell said in a statement on Thursday. The next review will be in December.

Removal from the gauge "could result in further selling pressure as HPHT is increasingly being viewed as a proxy to the US-China trade tensions", Mr Chu said.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2019, with the headline 'Hutchison Port Holdings Trust dropped from STI'. Print Edition | Subscribe