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Mapletree Industrial’s director Cheah raises stake; Lian Beng’s Ong family buys more shares

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore9/29/2022 12:05 PM GMT+08  • 3 min read
Mapletree Industrial’s director Cheah raises stake; Lian Beng’s Ong family buys more shares
Cheah (left) joined Mapletree Industrial Trust’s board on Aug 20; Lian Beng’s Ong says the company’s FY2022 earnings is a testament of its diversification strategy
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Cheah Kim Teck, a newly appointed non-executive director of Mapletree Industrial Trust, has raised his stake in the REIT just over a month after he joined the board on Aug 20. On Sept 23, Cheah acquired 100,000 units at $2.47 each on the open market. This brings his total holdings to 250,000 units.

Cheah is also a director of Mapletree Investments, the sponsor of the Mapletree family of REITs. He has served for years in the senior management team of Jardine Cycle & Carriage, including his current post as director, business development. Jardine C&C is a separately-listed subsidiary of the Jardine conglomerate that focuses on Southeast Asia. Cheah oversees Jardine C&C’s investment in Vietnam-based Truong Hai Auto Corporation.

Cheah bought his units amid a broader market selldown, with REITs and business trusts under pressure for their exposure, perceived or otherwise, to higher costs of funding with rate hikes.

Cheah was not the only Mapletree Industrial Trust insider who raised his stake recently. Just three months ago, Chua Tiow Chye, a non-executive director, bought more units as well.

On June 10, Chua, who is the deputy group CEO of Mapletree Investments, acquired 69,100 units at $2.50 each on the open market. On June 13, he again acquired 180,900 units at $2.48. Chua now holds around 1.64 million units.

In the most recent 1QFY2023 ended June, Mapletree Industrial Trust reported a net property income of $129.9 million, up 4.6% y-o-y. Revenue in the same period was up 2.3% y-o-y to $167.8 million.

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Builder builds stake

Elsewhere, the Ong family controlling construction and property company Lian Beng Group has been steadily increasing their stake, through an entity called Ong Sek Chong & Sons.

The most recent transaction was on Sept 28, when the Ongs acquired 183,500 shares at 52 cents each on the open market. This brings the total number of shares held by the Ongs to 292.8 million shares, equivalent to 58.59%.

See also: Jumbo and Thakral in the buyback spotlight

Earlier on Sept 15, Sept 22, Sept 23 and Sept 26, the Ongs acquired 478,300 shares, 512,700 shares, 346,000 shares and 433,900 shares respectively at an average of 53.5 cents per share. On Sept 14, they also acquired 291,000 shares at 53 cents each.

Lian Beng is trading at a significant discount to its book value. As at May 31, the company’s net asset value was 153.40 cents per share, up from 148.10 cents as at May 31, 2021.

On July 27, Lian Beng reported earnings of $43.5 million for FY2022 ended May, up 66.7% from the $26.1 million recorded a year ago. Revenue in the same period was up 53.2% to $788.3 million.

The company attributes the better numbers to broad-based improvements seen in its property development, investment holding and dormitory businesses. There was a pick-up in construction activity too. As at July 27, the company’s construction order book stands at $1.7 billion.

Lian Beng has declared a final dividend of two cents, bringing the total payout for FY2022 to three cents, up from one cent the year earlier. “Our performance in FY2022 demonstrates the resilience of our diversification strategy,” says chairman and managing director Ong Pang Aik.

“Our construction business continued to contend with challenging conditions of labour shortage, supply chain disruptions and rising costs. Thankfully, our property development, investment holdings and dormitory businesses performed well, and their positive contribution to the group’s bottom line has enabled us to turn in a decent set of results.”

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