SPH shares see heavy trading for 2nd straight session

Shares of SPH jumped as much as 4.8 per cent to $1.31 after the opening bell before giving back gains. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Market rumours of a possible transaction in the works continued to drive robust trading in shares of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) on Monday.

Shares of SPH, which publishes The Straits Times, jumped as much as 4.8 per cent to $1.31 after the opening bell before giving back gains.

Several traders cited rumours of further restructuring, including a possible spin-off of its business units or sale of assets.

SPH closed down two cents, or 1.6 per cent, at $1.23. That is up 24 per cent from a 52-week low of 99 cents, posted after its dividends were slashed as the media and property group's earnings slipped into the red for the first time.

On Monday, about 59.8 million shares changed hands, making it the fifth-most traded stock by value on the Singapore bourse, and 14th by volume. Last Friday, SPH surged more than 19.1 per cent to $1.25 as some 85.6 million shares changed hands.

When queried by the Singapore Exchange last Friday, SPH said it "regularly evaluates all opportunities across its portfolio with the objective of enhancing shareholder value, which may from time to time 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," the group said.

One trader speculated that this could imply that a company may be in talks and evaluating a possible deal, but there's nothing binding yet.

He added that when there is nothing going on, companies that are queried by SGX will mostly say they are not aware of any possible explanation for the trading activity.

UOB Kay Hian trading representative Brandon Leu said: "Speculation of a possible sale of assets or business units could imply capital coming back and possibly some special dividend coming."

SPH is scheduled to host a virtual annual general meeting (AGM) on Friday at 2.30pm.

Last month, SPH posted its first-ever net loss of $83.7 million for the full year ended Aug 31, a reversal from a net profit of $213.2 million a year ago, as Covid-19 "severely disrupted" all business segments.

The company took a hit from non-cash fair value losses of $232 million - mostly on its malls and purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) assets. The valuation of its retail malls fell by $196.5 million while that of its PBSA assets shrank by $31.9 million.

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