Business

Many property counters rise


Many property counters rose yesterday after the trading halt of three property firms substantially owned by tycoon Wee Cho Yaw stoked talk of a possible restructuring - such as possible privatisation.

Investors piled into City Developments, sending its shares up 2.5 per cent or 27 cents to $10.92 - the highest level since May 2014.

Wheelock Properties, Guocoland, United Engineers and Oxley Holdings also rose given cheap valuations.

Firms or people with cash are likely to look at taking over or delisting undervalued stocks.

Trading of UOL Group, its associate United Industrial Corp (UIC) and investment holding firm Haw Par Corp was halted on Wednesday pending an announcement.

There is unsubstantiated talk that UIC may be taken private if Mr Wee can buy out Philippine tycoon John Gokongwei's 37 per cent stake. UOL owns about 45 per cent of UIC. Haw Par has a sliver too.

"If UOL is taking over UIC, that could mean other undervalued property counters may follow suit," said Mr Justin Tang, director of global special situations at Religare Capital Markets.

"And even if they don't get privatised, many are trading way below book value."

Speculation of the possible privatisation of UIC also stoked trading interest in property group United Engineers, whose major shareholders are said to be mulling block sales of their stakes. It gained 0.7 per cent or two cents to $2.78.

Wheelock Properties jumped 1.6 per cent or three cents to $1.895, as it is among potential buyout candidates trading below book value.

Far East Orchard rose 2.52 per cent to $1.63 before it ended at $1.585.


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