Welcome to the latest edition of top stock market highlights.
Super wealthy Chinese
Singapore has seen a fresh influx of wealth into the city-state since 2021 after it became one of the first Asian cities to significantly relax pandemic restrictions.
In particular, the country has seen wealthy Chinese flow in as they became disillusioned with China’s draconian COVID-19 measures.
The number of family offices sprouting up here has surged to around 700 in 2021 from just 400 previously.
Along with the influx, Singapore’s assets under management (AUM) also grew 16% year on year to S$5.4 trillion in 2021.
This growth looks set to continue as Singapore is also providing support for family offices through targeted tax incentives.
Keppel Corporation Limited (SGX: BN4) and Sembcorp Marine Ltd (SGX: S51)
It has been 10 months since Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Marine first announced a merger.
Back in October last year, the terms were revised such that Sembcorp Marine will acquire the offshore and marine (O&M) division of Keppel Corporation.
You can refer to the revised terms and conditions here.
In December 2022, Keppel Corporation’s shareholders voted nearly unanimously for the deal to go through, logging a 99.96% approval percentage.
Next, Sembcorp Marine will hold its extraordinary general meeting on 16 February to allow its shareholders to vote on this merger.
Independent financial advisers appointed by Sembcorp Marine view the deal as fair and reasonable and recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the transaction.
If the deal is approved, Sembcorp Marine shareholders will end up owning 46% of the enlarged entity while Keppel Corporation will retain 54%, out of which it will distribute 49% through a dividend-in-specie.
US Federal Reserve
The US Federal Reserve made its first interest rate move this year by raising the benchmark rate by 0.25 percentage points.
The new rate now stands between 4.5% and 4.75%, the highest level since October 2007.
The central bank has acknowledged that disinflation, the slowing down in the pace of inflation, has taken root.
December’s inflation reading came in at 4.4%, down from the 4.7% registered in November, and was the slowest annual rate of increase since October 2021.
This 0.25% hike marks a slowdown from the 0.5% increase back in December and is a far cry from the four consecutive 0.75% increases for each of its four meetings from June to November 2022.
Despite the lower increase, the Federal Reserve has reiterated that further increases in interest rates will be necessary to bring inflation down to its targeted 2% level.
However, the extent of these hikes is not cast in stone and will depend on how inflation, the economy and the stock market fare.
Investors have cheered the expected slower pace of increases and are hanging on the “disinflation” word to send stock markets higher.
In January alone, the S&P 500 Index has gained 6.2% while the technology-heavy NASDAQ Composite Index has shot up 10.7%.
Boustead Projects Limited (SGX: AVM)
Boustead Projects Limited, or BPL, has just announced that its private real estate fund, Boustead Industrial Fund (BIF), has made its first acquisition in the open market.
BIF has partnered with Metro Holdings Ltd (SGX: M01) and an independent institutional third party to jointly acquire J’Forte Building for S$98.8 million, excluding the upfront land premium payable to Jurong Town Corporation (JTC).
The property is an eight-storey high-specification industrial building located at 26 Tai Seng Street.
It sits in a prime location with good accessibility to Tai Seng MRT station and the Kallang-Paya Lebar and Pan-Island Expressways.
BPL will subscribe for a 49% stake in units of BIF along with 7% notes due 2031 to help fund this purchase.
With this acquisition, BIF’s total number of properties will increase to 16, up from 14 in its initial portfolio.
The total AUM for BIF will be approximately S$749 million with a very high committed occupancy rate of 98% and a long weighted average lease expiry (WALE) of 6.1 years.
The seller of the property, Suki Sushi Pte Ltd, will then lease back 60% of the property.
BIF believes that J’Forte Building is attractive as it has a long remaining land tenure of about 44 years and has a long WALE with a 10-year leaseback by the seller.
Also, the property is zoned for food processing operations and there is a limited supply of properties with this type of zoning in the vicinity.
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Disclosure: Royston Yang owns shares of Boustead Projects Limited.