SingPost shares dive inexplicably to 20-month low; prompts SGX query

SingPost shares dive inexplicably to 20-month low; prompts SGX query

Singapore - SHARES of postal and e-commerce group Singapore Post took an unexplained and dramatic dive on Wednesday to their lowest point in 20 months, drawing a query about its unusual trading activity from the Singapore Exchange (SGX). SingPost did not respond by press time.

The stock opened only slightly lower at S$1.59 but took a steep tumble in the late morning to S$1.54, or about 4.3 per cent down. It bled even more in mid-afternoon and finished the day 6.2 per cent or 10 Singapore cents lower at S$1.51.

This was the counter's lowest price since May 2014. The percentage drop in one session was also the sharpest since the stock took a 6.6 per cent tumble on Oct 29, 2008, in the depths of the global financial crisis.

The number of shares traded also spiked to about 31.4 million on Wednesday - more than five times the 6.1 million shares that changed hands the day before.

The unusual price and volume movement drew a query at around 4.40pm from SGX, which asked SingPost if it knew of any explanation for the trading and whether it could confirm its compliance with listing rules. "Please respond immediately via SGXNet," the bourse added.

SingPost had not responded to the SGX query by 10pm on Wednesday.

The sudden dive in its stock has left observers speculating about what SingPost's single largest shareholder, Singtel, might be thinking. The telco owns 23 per cent of SingPost, and is represented on SingPost's board by Bill Chang, Singtel's CEO of group enterprise and Singapore country chief. Mr Chang does not sit on the SingPost board's executive committee, which is responsible for approving investments and divestments within threshold limits set by the board.

SingPost has yet to name its special auditors for an impending investigation into corporate governance issues. It said on Dec 23 that its director, Keith Tay, had "requested the chairman of the board for special auditors to be appointed immediately to investigate these issues thoroughly and to report directly to the board and the audit committee". It has not specified what these issues are.

Its move to commission a probe came after it admitted it had made an "administrative oversight" in a July 2014 deal disclosure by not having properly disclosed Mr Tay's interest in its acquisition of FS Mackenzie, a UK-based freight forwarder that it had agreed to pay up to £7 million (S$14.7 million) for.

The Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) weighed in on the special audit earlier this week, saying that the investigation should also encompass areas such as the composition of its board, the functioning of SingPost's exco and CEO succession.

melissat@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 7, 2016.
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