The Cheng family controlling Wing Tai Holdings has seen an increase in their stake in the property group via a combination of an open market purchase and an off-market deal.
On July 14, via Empire Gate Holdings, the Chengs acquired nearly 39 million shares for $71.3 million or an average of $1.83. The bulk of the shares or 38.4 million were bought via a married deal from an undisclosed seller and the remaining 509,993 shares were bought off the market. Following the purchase, Empire Gate’s total interest in Wing Tai increased to just over 90.8 million shares or 11.8%, up from 6.73% previously.
With the transaction, Cheng Wai Keung, Wing Tai’s chairman and managing director, saw his total interest climb to 463 million shares or 60.18%, from 55.03% previously. Edmund, Wai Keung’s younger brother, is also managing the company as its deputy chairman and deputy managing director.
The last time Empire Gate Holdings increased the Chengs' stake in Wing Tai was late last year. According to a Dec 29, 2020, filing, the entity had acquired about 18 million shares at nearly $1.92 each.
For the first half ended December 2020, Wing Tai reported 73% higher earnings of $56.8 million from a year ago as revenue rose 33% y-o-y to $243.4 million from the sale of properties. As at Dec 31, 2020, Wing Tai’s net asset value was $4.15 per share, versus $4.18 as at June 30, 2020.
Meanwhile, at ParkwayLife REIT (PLife REIT), substantial shareholder Cohen & Steers Capital Management on July 9 sold 167,800 units at an average of $4.7901 each or a total of $790,186.98.
Even with the sale, the fund manager is left with nearly 42.3 million units, equivalent to 6.985%, down from 7.01% previously. Interestingly, New York-based Cohen & Steers sold and bought PLife REIT units in quick succession. On July 2, it had acquired 124,200 units for about $4.59 each and on July 7 had sold 30,700 units at $4.6282 each. Year to date, the unit price of PLife REIT is up by around 25%.
The transactions by Cohen & Steers came a week before PLife REIT announced a long-awaited renewal of its master lease agreements with sponsor IHH Healthcare. Under the agreement, IHH Healthcare will lease three key hospitals in Singapore for another 20 years, which should provide significant stability and visibility to the REIT’s portfolio.
As part of the deal, PLife REIT, one of the best-performing REITs, will pay $150 million to refurbish the three hospitals, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital and Parkway East Hospital. In return, PLife REIT unitholders can look forward to higher distributions in the coming years. Furthermore, PLife REIT has been granted a right of first refusal to acquire Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital when it is up for sale in the next decade.
Yet another asset manager had pared its stake in another company. On July 9, Fidelity sold 347,700 shares of luxury watch purveyor The Hour Glass for $511,398 or an average of $1.47 each. Following the sale, Fidelity still has nearly 70 million Hour Glass shares held through various funds. This is equivalent to a stake of 9.98%, down from 10.02% previously.
However, the sale by Fidelity pales in comparison to the active share buybacks undertaken by the company over the last couple of months. Thus far in July alone, Hour Glass has bought back nearly 4.1 million shares.
Despite the pandemic, Hour Glass has benefited from resilient demand for luxury watches and higher margins. In FY2021 ended March 31, the company reported revenue of $742.9 million, down 1% from FY2020. Nevertheless, earnings grew by 8% to $82.5 million. Year to date, shares of Hour Glass have gained by about 75%.