STI perks up on talk of big privatisation deal

Property counters lifted by talk that tycoon Wee Cho Yaw may restructure his holdings

Singapore shares rallied on positive sentiment fuelled by speculation that a big privatisation deal may be in the works.

The key Straits Times Index finished 0.43 per cent or 13.78 points higher at 3,215.55, led by City Developments, Jardine Matheson Holdings, Golden Agri-Resources, OCBC Group and ST Engineering.

Property counters got a boost from market talk that tycoon Wee Cho Yaw may be about to restructure his real estate holdings after three firms he substantially owns called for a trading halt on Wednesday.

CDL jumped 2.54 per cent or 27 cents to $10.92; Hongkong Land rose 0.8 per cent or six US cents to US$7.46. Bukit Sembawang jumped 0.2 per cent or one cent to $6.48.

Yanlord Land Group gained 0.3 per cent or 0.5 cent to $1.825. Hatten Land jumped nearly 12 per cent or 2.3 cents to 21.5 cents after a broker issued a buy call on the counter.

Sentiment in the property sector is expected to stay positive ahead of announcements from UOL Group, its associate United Industrial Corp (UIC) and investment holding company Haw Par Corp.

Local oil and gas counters kept the faith, shrugging off news of Brent crude sliding below US$45 a barrel - its lowest since last November - on a supply glut that has persisted despite Opec-led efforts to support the market. Since peaking in February, crude has dropped around 20 per cent, giving back gains following the Opec-led cut late last year.

Cosco Shipping International slipped 4.9 per cent or 1.5 cents to 29 cents yesterday. In response to a trading query by the Singapore Exchange on Wednesday, Cosco said yesterday that it had announced a proposed disposal of its 51 per cent equity interest in Cosco Shipyard Group, a 50 per cent equity interest in Cosco (Nantong) Shipyard; and 39.1 per cent equity interest in Cosco (Dalian) Shipyard.

It added that it plans to use the sale proceeds to fund future projects, which may include mergers and acquisitions, and working capital requirements of the group.

Meanwhile, Singapore Press Holdings dipped 0.6 per cent or two cents to $3.20 even though OCBC Investment Research upgraded its call to hold. SPH said on Wednesday that, together with joint venture partner Kajima, its consortium has been awarded the HDB tender for a 99-year-leasehold site in Bidadari Estate for $1.132 billion.

OCBC's Ms Carmen Lee said she believes the project "will likely be accretive, particularly given improved sentiments in the domestic residential sector".

Among the most hotly traded pennies were Disa, flat at 1.7 cents, with 59.1 million shares traded; and Sincap, shedding 5.9 per cent or 0.1 cent to 1.6 cents, with 51 million shares. Addvalue Tech fell 3.8 per cent or 0.2 cent to 5.1 cents, with 49.4 million shares done. Genting Singapore was also heavily traded, shedding 5.2 per cent or six cents to $1.085, with 54 million shares done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'STI perks up on talk of big privatisation deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe