Osim delisting twist for SGX

Former Osim investors must feel a bit like Hamlet did when his mother, the Queen, remarried shortly after his father's death.

Just six months ago, the massage chair and lifestyle products company left the Singapore Exchange (SGX) following a $1 billion buyout led by founder Ron Sim, but it is now preparing to return to the bourse - just not this one.

Mr Sim applied to relist his company on the Hong Kong stock exchange as the V3 Group last week. Certainly, bigger companies have left the Singapore bourse, but Osim stands out for the sheer speed with which it is returning to the capital markets.

The Osim defection has highlighted the SGX's perennial quandary of how best to strike the right balance between high regulatory standards and the charms of an SGX listing, charms perceived by some sceptics to be waning.

Although Mr Sim has kept mum on his reasons for picking Hong Kong, he did borrow more than $300 million to take Osim private, which may explain why he needs to raise money soon.

He has also made known his frustrations with SGX valuations and rising compliance costs, saying that sustainability reporting is "overkill" and that "quarterly reporting destroys company value".

Both Singapore and Hong Kong recently introduced "comply or explain" sustainability reporting requirements.

In Hong Kong, however, quarterly reporting is compulsory only for firms listed on the junior board, whereas in Singapore, it has been mandatory for companies with a market capitalisation of more than $75 million since 2003. In January last year, the SGX began a review of the quarterly reporting rule. Whatever its final decision, the regulator will trigger strong reactions from either side of the fence.

As for the notion that Osim was undervalued here, the final word belongs to V3. V3's initial public offering has not been priced yet, but when it makes its Hong Kong debut as the old Osim plus a new acquisition, how well it does after listing will give market watchers something to talk about.

Marissa Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Osim delisting twist for SGX'. Subscribe