Insider Moves: EPF, Perisai Petroleum Teknologi, AirAsia, Ecofirst Consolidated, Nexgram Holdings, Bonia Corp and ICapital.Biz

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NOTABLE filings

Notable filings of shareholding changes with Bursa Malaysia between Dec 1 and 5 included the disposal by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) of some 7.15 million shares, or a 0.6% stake, in Perisai Petroleum Teknologi Bhd.

Filings on Dec 2 and 4 show that the EPF sold the shares in line with the market selldown on oil and gas stocks. Between Dec 2 and 9, the retirement fund reduced its stake in Perisai from 6.69% to 5.16%.

The large open-market disposals by the EPF may have exacerbated the selldown in Perisai’s shares. At its Dec 10 close of 49 sen, the stock was down by 34% from Dec 1.

Meanwhile, the EPF also reduced its shareholding in AirAsia Bhd, selling some 16.86 million shares between Dec 1 and 5 as the airline’s shares were rallying. The fund had reduced its shareholding to some 209.14 million shares, or a 7.51% stake, as at Dec 5.

Aviation stocks have been on an uptrend due to the anticipated bump in earnings margin resulting from lower crude oil prices. Since the beginning of June, when oil prices began their decline, AirAsia’s stock had gained 12% as at its Dec 10 close of RM2.73.

Over at Ecofirst Consolidated Bhd, group CEO and executive director Datuk Tiong Kwing Hee acquired some 21.5 million shares, according to filings on Dec 2 and 4.
The purchases, which amounted to a 2.9% stake in the company, raised Tiong’s shareholding to 72.42 million shares, or about 10% of Ecofirst’s total share base.

Ecofirst’s recent financial restructuring efforts resulted in the waiver of certain term loan liabilities and interests. Its FY2014 net profit of RM30.39 million included the positive impact from such waivers, despite reporting only RM24.45 million in revenue.

Another notable filing was seen at Nexgram Holdings Bhd, where major shareholder and managing director Tey Por Yee disposed of 27.83 million shares, according to a Dec 2 filing. The sale still leaves him with 376.92 million shares, or a 20% stake, in the telecommunications services company.

News of Tey’s disposal sent Nexgram’s shares tumbling to a 10-month low of 6.5 sen at its Dec 10 close. Nexgram, which had recently diversified into property development, is banking on the strength of its upcoming projects in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, which have an estimated gross development value of RM1.2 billion.
 Tey said on Oct 28 that the projects will be launched by the first quarter of next year.

Notable movements

Two foreign-incorporated investment funds upped their stakes in apparel maker Bonia Corp Bhd. Filings made on Dec 2 and 5 show that Albizia Asean Opportunities Fund (Cayman Islands) acquired 3.6 million Bonia shares, bringing its stake to 63.18 million shares, or 7.84% equity interest.

A separate Dec 5 filing shows that Milingtonia Ltd (British Virgin Islands) amassed some 27.45 million shares via a direct deal. The fund now owns 85.72 million shares in Bonia, or a 10.63% stake.

Bonia’s shares have declined this year following a slowdown in earnings growth due to stiff competition from global brands. Following its latest quarterly earnings announcement on Nov 27, which shows an 8.9% y-o-y decline in net profit to RM12.95 million from RM14.22 million previously, the stock fell 16% at its Dec 10 close of 85 sen.

Another notable movement was seen in ICapital.Biz Bhd. City of London Investment Management Co Ltd acquired 1.42 million shares of the closed-end fund, as shown in filings on Dec 1 and 5. This raised the London-based investment firm’s holding to 15.27 million shares or an 11% stake.

City of London is said to be in a proxy fight with iCapital.Biz’s managers after the former voted against the reappointment of Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim as a director during the fund’s 10th annual general meeting on Nov 30. Since then, iCapital.Biz’s stock has plummeted to an eight-month low of RM2.34 at Dec 10’s closing, compared with its most recent high of RM2.57 in May.

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This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 15-21, 2014.