A trio of independent directors including two recently appointed ones at Oceanus Group have bought shares via off-market deals. They are Edward Loy Chee Kim; Zahidi Bin Abd Rahman and Yaacob Bin Ibrahim, a former minister. Zahid joined the board in June while Yaacob joined only on Sept 1. Loy, meanwhile, has been on the board since May 2018. On Nov 17, via off-market deals of the same size and same price, they each acquired 10,526,315 shares for $178,947, which works out to be 1.67 cents each. With the Nov 23 closing price at 2.9 cents, the directors are in the money.

Oceanus was previously an abalone farmer that nearly went under but after years of restructuring led by CEO Peter Koh, the company has since changed its business model. It is now diversified into abalone distribution and is also making moves into urban farming. For the three months ended Sept 30, the company reported earnings of RMB2.5 million ($510,472), reversing from losses of RMB1.37 million a year earlier. Revenue rose more than sevenfold to RMB135 million.

Raising stake in associate

UMS Holdings increased its stake in its associate company JEP Holdings over the past couple weeks. On Nov 13, it acquired 138,000 shares at 17.886 cents each. It acquired more shares again on Nov 17, 18, 19 and 20, paying between 18.677 cents and 20 cents. The most recent purchase was made on Nov 23 for another 136,900 shares at 19.94 cents each. UMS now holds just over 168.4 million JEP shares, equivalent to a stake of 40.69%.

Recently, JEP’s executive director Zee Hoong Huay was active in the market too. On Nov 23, he sold 13,600 shares at 20 cents each. The following day, he bought 100,000 shares for the same price. Zee now holds nearly 57.2 million shares, or 13.81%. Both UMS and JEP are led by executive chairman Andy Luong, who holds his own direct stake of 1.15 million shares in JEP, equivalent to 0.28%.

On Aug 13, JEP reported revenue of $42.4 million for the six months ended June 30, down 5.2% from a year ago. However, thanks to government wage subsidies that are part of the Covid-19 booster package, the company was able to report earnings of $4.6 million, 38.1% higher than the $3.34 million the year before.

In its earnings commentary, JEP expects the aviation industry to face a greater challenge down the road. “Some of our customers have requested a deferment and delivery rescheduling, and not expecting restore to pre-pandemic level anytime soon,” JEP adds.

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Nevertheless, the company expects to do fine. “The existing diversified revenue streams has significantly alleviated the operation and financial impact from the aerospace segment to the company during this economic downturn,” the company adds.

Oei now a significant shareholder

Shares in Singapore Press Holdings, which have been on the slide in recent years, roared into life on Nov 20, when it rose more than 22% to end the day at $1.27, making it among the top volumes that day. The unusual price movement triggered a query from the Singapore Exchange. In response, the property and media company gave the standard response that it regularly evaluates all opportunities across its portfolio with the objective of enhancing shareholder value. This may from time to time involve discussions with various parties and stakeholders although it has nothing definitive to announce.

Amid renewed interest in SPH shares, a familiar name is said to have emerged as a significant shareholder of the company: Oei Hong Leong. According to SPH’s annual report, which lists the top 20 shareholders, Oei owns 8 million shares and is the 16th largest shareholder. This gives him a stake of 0.5% which is below the 5% threshold needed to declare changes in his shareholdings if he makes a sale or acquisition. It was therefore not clear when Oei bought the shares and at what price or if he had already owned shares previously and presumably at a higher cost, given SPH’s share price has fallen.