SPH shares close 19% higher on heavy volume

About 65 large trades were done during the morning trading session. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Shares of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) surged on Friday (Nov 20) amid active trading, prompting a query from the bourse operator.

The stock surged 10.5 per cent to hit S$1.16 at around 11.08am, according to Shareinvestor data. The last time the counter closed at such levels was in late July this year.

The stock sustained its rally on Friday afternoon, jumping to S$1.23 on a cum-dividend basis as at 3.38pm, up 17.1 per cent from Thursday's close.

Some 69.5 million shares had changed hands by then, making the counter the second-most traded by value on the Singapore bourse, and fifth by volume.

About 65 large trades - each valued at more than S$150,000 - were done during the morning trading session.

It eventually closed 19.05 per cent higher at $1.25, with 85.6 million shares changing hands. This represented over 5 per cent of SPH's issued and paid-up shares. The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act has, since 2002, prohibited any person from owning 5 per cent or more of a newspaper company without approval from the Minister for Communications and Information.

In response to queries from the Singapore Exchange on the unusual trading activity, SPH said it regularly evaluates all opportunities across its portfolio with the objective of enhancing shareholder value, which may involve discussions with various parties and stakeholders.

"There is no assurance that any transaction will materialise or that any definitive or binding agreement will be reached. SPH will, in compliance with applicable rules, make further announcements as appropriate," it said.

Last month, the stock briefly dipped below $1. The first time it did so was on Oct 14 morning, after the board slashed dividends as the media and property group fell into the red. It fell again on Oct 29 to Nov 2, to close at around 99 cents to 99.5 cents.

SPH, which publishes The Business Times and The Straits Times, recommended a final cash dividend of one cent per share for its fiscal year ended Aug 31, 2020, down from 5.5 cents a year ago. The dividend is payable on Dec 18 after books closure on Dec 4.

Separately, the manager of SPH Reit, which is sponsored by SPH, announced on Wednesday that its non-executive director David Chia, 65, has resigned to pave the way for the "renewal of board members".

SPH Reit units also rose on Friday, gaining 1.87 per cent to close at 82 cents.

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