Several billionaire families were in the market in recent weeks, buying up some shares just as market sentiment was unsettled over the emergence of a new variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
The Wee family that controls UOL Group were among those that added to their stake. The buying was done via their privately held entity Wee Investments, which is the single largest shareholder of the property and hospital firm.
On Dec 2 and 3, Wee Investments acquired 357,200 shares for $6.99427 each and130,400 shares at $6.99917 each respectively. Before these two days, the Wees had acquired 2.1 million shares for $6.87753 each on Nov 30 and another 200,000 shares at $6.94647 each on Dec 1. The transaction brings the total direct stake held by Wee Investments to 127.5 million shares or 15.098% from 15.04% prior to Dec 2.
Various members of the Wee family held direct stakes of their own. According to the company’s annual report, as of March 5, family patriarch Wee Cho Yaw holds nearly 3.67 million shares or 0.434% directly.
In addition, another entity controlled by the family, C. Y. Wee & Company holds 115.2 million shares or 13.65% as of March 5. On Aug 12, UOL reported earnings of $91.3 million for 1HFY2021 ended June 30, versus a loss of $82.1 million in the year earlier period. Revenue was up 31% y-o-y to $1.2 billion, led by recognition of projects such as Avenue South Residence, The Tre Ver and Clavon. As at June 30, UOL’s net asset value was $11.76 per share, versus $11.60 per share as at Dec 31, 2020.
Wider losses for chilli crab restaurant
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The Ng family, better known for owning privately-held property giant Far East Organization, are known to invest in other listed companies, including Jumbo Group.
On Dec 1, Kuang Ming Investments, an entity controlled by the Ngs, acquired 500,000 Jumbo shares for $157,450 or 31.49 cents each.
With that, the Ngs now own around 45.1 million shares, equivalent to 7.02%. Jumbo is among the more badly hit listed F&B companies as its main seafood restaurant business was heavily exposed to the once thriving tourist market.
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With the pandemic curbing visitor arrivals, Jumbo is forced to shut down outlets including one of its more prominent branches in the Clarke Quay area. Instead, the company is trying to go more mass market that caters to local consumers. It is doing so by acquiring existing local brands, before helping them expand with more outlets. One such example is Kok Kee Wanton Noodles.
In FY2021 ended Sept 30, Jumbo’s revenue dropped by 16.2% y-o-y to $81.8 million. Losses for the year widened by 44% from $8.2 million to $11.8 million.
Higher shipping costs
Sam Goi Seng Hui, who recently took on a new role as executive chairman of consumer products producer Hanwell Holdings, bought more shares in JB Foods, which focuses on cocoa products.
On Nov 29 and Nov 30, Goi had acquired 6,500 shares for 51 cents each and 209,300 shares each for 50.8 cents each. Most recently on Dec 2, he again acquired 48,000 shares for $24,240 or 50.5 cents each, bringing his direct stake to 1,316,400 shares or 0.43%. Goi controls another 72.9 million shares or 24.05% via Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing, which is his flagship company.
In 1HFY2021 ended June, JB Foods reported revenue of US$210.2 million ($287.85 million), up 0.6%. However, sharply higher shipping costs caused earnings to drop by 59.8% to US$4.2 million from US$10.4 million a year ago.
“The group believes the cocoa consumption environment will continue to be supported by the recovery of the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic and the growing middle-income classes over the long term,” the company notes.
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