Kopernik Global Investors, a Florida-based investment adviser, is now a substantial shareholder of Yoma Strategic Holdings.

According to an Oct 1 filing, Kopernik acquired 850,000 shares for 12.7 cents or some $107,950 in total. The purchase brings Kopernik’s interest in Yoma from just over 111.3 million shares or 4.98% to nearly 112.2 million shares or 5.01%.

Yoma, a conglomerate whose main business is in Myanmar, suffered a selldown following the military coup earlier this year. From around 30 cents before the coup on Jan 30, it had dropped to a low of 12 cents or so in September.

Kopernik’s purchase stands in contrast to the selling by another fund manager. On April 15, Aberdeen Asset Management, renamed Abrdn, sold 2.1 million shares for $290,965.11 or an average of 13.8 cents each. This brought Aberdeen’s stake from 113.6 million shares or 5.077% to just below 111.5 million shares or 4.983%, meaning it is no longer a substantial shareholder.

In 1HFY2021 ended March 31, Yoma reported losses widened 25% to US$19.9 million ($26.99 million) from losses of US$15.9 million a year ago.

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In a business update three months later for 3QFY2021 ended June 30, Yoma reported improvement in revenue from its real estate business but booked lower revenue from its motor and financial services businesses. Overall, the company’s revenue for 3QFY2021 ended June 30 was US$19.6 million, up 2.1% y-o-y from US$19.2 million.

As at June 30, Yoma’s net asset value was 25.22 cents per share, down slightly from 26.79 cents per share as at Sept 30 2020.

On Aug 2, the company announced that Filipino businessman Fernando Zobel de Ayala has stepped down from its board. He is the younger brother of Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Ayala Corporation, their family business. Fernando is the president and CEO.

In place of Fernando, Cezar Peralta Consing, a director of Ayala Corp, is now a non-executive, non-independent director on Yoma’s board instead.

Fernando was first appointed to Yoma’s board in December 2019, following a US$237.5 million placement taken up by Ayala in exchange for a 20% stake in Yoma and Yangon-listed First Myanmar Investment Company, which is also controlled by Serge Pun, Yoma’s chairman.

“We have been overweight on our home market, we have now reached a stage where we have to build stronger ties in this Southeast Asian story,” said Jaime back on Nov 16, 2019 when the partnership was announced. “The Myanmar growth story is an extraordinary one. There’s a tremendous opportunity,” he added.

Ayala had already committed nearly US$108.6 for 332.5 million new shares in Yoma, giving the leading Philippines conglomerate a stake of 14.9% in the Myanmar-based company.

On Sept 30, Yoma announced that the longstop date of the second tranche of the placement to Ayala, already extended to Sept 30, will be extended again to Dec 31.

Director selling

James Toh Ban Leng, a non-executive, non-independent director of AEM Holdings, has significantly cut his stake in the company.

On Sept 16, via an entity called A.C.T. Holdings, he sold one million shares at $4.15 each. As such, Toh’s indirect stake has been cut from just below 2.2 million shares to around 1.2 million shares or from 0.71% to 0.387%.

The following day, Toh sold another 600,000 shares for around $4.26 each. This sale was via his direct holdings, which was cut from just over 12.3 million shares to around 11.7 million shares or from 3.985% to 3.791%.

Toh now has a total interest of 4.178%, down from 4.372%.

Less than a fortnight after Toh’s sale, the company bought back some shares. On Oct 1, AEM acquired 100,000 shares at $3.98 each. On Oct 6, it bought another 150,000 shares at $3.93 each. Earlier on Sept 30, the company had acquired 148,000 shares at $4.05 each.

On Aug 31, AEM completed the placement of 26.8 million shares to Temasek Holdings at $3.8477 each, making the state investment agency the company’s largest shareholder.

Photo: Besides real estate, Yoma Strategic is in financial services as well / Yoma Strategic