Property tycoons lead the big buyers

Chiefs of Henderson Land and Champion Reit among purchasers of shares in their own firms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 10:30am

The buying rebounded, while the selling among directors rose for the third straight week, filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange from June 3 to 7 show.

A total of 29 companies recorded 160 purchases worth HK$486 million, versus 16 firms with 73 disposals worth HK$125 million.

The buy figures were up from the previous week's 25 companies, 120 purchases, and HK$392 million. On the selling side, the number of trades and value were up from the previous week's 61 disposals worth HK$107 million.

Aside from directors, there was a sharp rebound in the buyback activity among listed firms, with eight companies that posted 36 repurchases worth HK$141 million. The figures were up from the previous week's five firms, 20 trades, and HK$123 million.

Despite the sharp correction in property stocks in the past month, the buying has remained strong in the sector, with insider purchases in Henderson Land Development and Champion REIT and buybacks in Sino-Ocean Land last week.

Lee Shau-kee, chairman of blue-chip property developer Henderson Land Development, led all buyers again last week, with 6.6 million shares purchased from May 28 to June 3, worth HK$369 million. That brought his total purchases since the company released its year-end results in the last week of March to 44.96 million shares, worth HK$2.47 billion.

The trades, which accounted for 22 per cent of the stock's trading volume, increased his holdings by nearly 3 per cent to 1.56 billion shares, or 64.55 per cent of the issued capital. Lee is the most active buyer among all directors in the past four months, with purchases recorded in 35 of the 45 trading days in this recent buying spree.

Before his trades this year, Lee acquired shares worth HK$6.18 billion from 2008 to 2012 at an average of HK$47 each and HK$129 million of shares from 2000 to 2002 at an average of HK$32 each. The stock closed at HK$46.35 on Friday.

Another property tycoon that bought shares last week is Lo Ka-shui, chairman of the commercial properties investor Champion Real Estate Investment Trust, with 1.32 million units purchased from May 30 to June 3 at an average of HK$3.72 each. The trade increased his holdings to 3.3 billion units, or 58.14 per cent of the issued capital. The acquisitions were made after the counter plunged by 11 per cent from HK$4.19 on May 10. Most recently, Lo acquired 12.78 million units from August to December 2012.

The recent purchases bode well for shareholders as the counter rose by an average of 16 per cent six months after Lo's purchases, based on 61 acquisitions since 2008. The counter recorded a price gain six months after on 92 per cent of those acquisitions. The unit trust closed at HK$3.75 on Friday.

The property and construction firm Sino-Ocean Land recorded its first buyback since September 2011, with 1.9 million shares purchased on June 7 at HK$4.50 each. The trade was made after the stock fell by 17 per cent from HK$5.42 on May 10. The stock is also sharply down since January from HK$6.26. Despite the steep fall in the share price, the group's buyback price was higher than its acquisition price in 2011 based on the 14.3 million shares it acquired from June to September 2011 at an average of HK$3.40 each. The group repurchased 6.95 million shares from June to October 2008 at HK$5.11 to HK$1.69 each or an average of HK$3.19 each.

Investors should note that Wheelock and Co reported a purchase-related filing on March 18 of 1.5 million shares at HK$4.43 each, which increased its holdings to 41 million shares, or 7 per cent of the issued capital. The group previously reported a purchase-related filing in May 2012 of 2.15 million shares at HK$2.98 each and an initial filing in August 2011 of 3.85 million shares at HK$3.41 each, which raised its interest to 5.07 per cent. Its stake is up 124 million shares since that initial filing in August 2011. The stock closed at HK$4.51 on Friday.

Robert Halili is the managing director of Asia Insider