Off-Market Trades:British American Tobacco (M), TFP Solutions Bhd, AEON Co (M), Malayan Banking

This article first appeared in Capital, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on February 11, 2019 - February 17, 2019.
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THE period under review was shortened by two public holidays — the Federal Territories Day on Feb 1 and the Chinese New Year holidays that began on Feb 5.

That said, the reduced trading activity still saw some interesting off-market trades, including the emergence of a new substantial shareholder in British American Tobacco (M) Bhd on Jan 31.

Data shows that US-based fund manager Lazard Asset Management LLC indirectly acquired 14.84 million shares or a 5.2% stake on Jan 31. This is the first time the fund has surfaced in British American Tobacco since ceasing to be a substantial shareholder in July last year.

According to Bloomberg data, the acquisition bumps up the overall stake held by the fund manager’s parent, Lazard Ltd, to 8.61% — the second largest behind British American Tobacco Holdings (M) BV.

Over the past year, British American Tobacco has risen by 25.26%. It is worth noting that the counter surged 21.9% between Oct 31 and Nov 9 last year. On Feb 4 this year, the stock closed at RM38.22, giving the company a market capitalisation of RM10.91 billion.

Meanwhile, IT firm and business management consultancy TFP Solutions Bhd saw a new substantial shareholder emerge during the period under review. Daniel Boo Hui Siong acquired 10.5 million shares or a 5.15% stake off market from Quah Teik Jin at 9.5 sen apiece or just under RM1 million in total on Jan 31.

The transacted price is at a slight premium to the stock’s closing price of nine sen on Jan 31. Over the past year, TFP Solutions has fallen by 32.14%. Its market capitalisation on Jan 31 was about RM18.35 million.

Boo is the managing director of IT company iDimension Consolidated Bhd, while Quah was at one time the managing director of TFP Solutions before resigning in November 2017 due to family reasons.

On Jan 31, Aberdeen Standard Investments (M) Sdn Bhd ceased to be a substantial shareholder in AEON Co (M) Bhd after selling 6.95 million shares or a roughly 0.5% block.

The disposal would have taken its holding to just below the 5% threshold as the company had been paring down its stake in AEON Co since early January.

However, various other Aberdeen entities continue to hold varying stake sizes in AEON Co. Bloomberg data shows that Standard Life Aberdeen PLC is the third largest shareholder in AEON Co with a collective interest of 10.72%, behind retirement savings fund Employees Provident Fund (12.89%) and AEON Co Ltd (51.68%).

The stock had rallied early last year, rising 75.5% between end-February and mid-May, only to tumble to RM1.39 by Jan 4 this year.

Its share price has moved relatively sideways over the past 12 months at 0.26%. Last Thursday, it had a market capitalisation of about RM2.2 billion.

Other notable off-market trades include a direct transaction of 15,000 shares of Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) at RM9.59 each on Jan 31.

The transacted price was at a five-sen premium to its closing price that day. The shares changed hands in a single deal worth RM143.85 million.

Overall, some RM340.55 million worth of Maybank shares were traded off market in blocks of at least 480,000 shares during the period under review.

The stock has been trading below the RM10 threshold since peaking at a one-year high of RM10.88 on May 22 last year. From that point, it plunged 20.22% to a two-year low of RM8.68 on June 27 before recovering.

Last Monday, Maybank was last traded at RM9.57. Its market capitalisation that day was about RM105.6 billion.

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