By Leslie Shaffer
- Sakae Holdings
Sakae Holdings, best known in Singapore for its sushi outlets, tried to diversify into commodity trading, but its efforts to trade sugar quickly turned sour.
The tale started in mid-2017, when a representative for its subsidiary Sakae Capital (SCPL), whom Sakae hasn’t publicly identified, brought in a potential 12,800 metric tonne sugar transaction.
The sugar was purportedly sold to two customers, which Sakae only identified as A and B. Customer A took delivery of 3,457 metric tonnes of sugar and paid SCPL US$1.6 million (S$2.2 million) in October 2017, but customer B took delivery of 9,343 metric tonnes of sugar with a sale value of US$4.3 million, in December 2017 and didn’t pay, Sakae said.
In August of this year, the company’s auditors appointed an independent corporate governance and internal audit firm to undertake a review. The shareholders and directors of the customer company are uncontactable, as is the representative appointed by Sakae to carry out the sugar trade.
Sakae filed a police report in September.
2. Sunpower Group
Sunpower Group said in early December its executive chairman Guo Hongxin and executive director Ma Ming filed a report with the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force over unauthorised transfer of shares belonging to them.
The two executives had earlier each placed 14 million Sunpower shares, or around 1.89 percent of the company’s total issued shares, as collateral for personal loans from America 2030 Capital. The loans were never disbursed and the two executives said the shares were no longer in the depository brokerage account designated by the lender.
Sunpower in a filing to the Singapore stock exchange on 8 Nov. said the two shareholders have commenced legal proceedings in the Supreme Court of Singapore to get back the shares, after earlier obtaining an interim injunction to prevent America 2030 Capital and related parties from dealing in the shares.
America 2030 Capital said in a 14 Nov. statement it has “initiated arbitration proceedings against the two executives of Sunpower and will aggressively defend its reputation and the enforcement of contracts executed by the two executives.”
3. Stamford Land
In October, Stamford Land amicably settled an unusual lawsuit: The company and its directors had sued a minority shareholder, Mano Sabnani, for defamation.
That was over allegations he made in a Facebook post and a letter to The Business Times, and comments he made during two of the company’s annual general meetings, one in 2016 and one this year over the company’s corporate governance and investor relations.
The Facebook post, which was later blocked, was titled “Stamford Land board’s high-handed conduct at AGM leaves bitter taste.” It included an allegation that when Sabnani asked for water at the meeting, he was told he could “quench his thirst” in the toilet.
Sabnani submitted a defence, saying his statements weren’t defamatory and that he was raising legitimate shareholder issues, including dividend policy and executive compensation.
The drama came to an end in October when the two parties reached what they called an “amicable settlement of all differences,” and that they would “bring this unhappy episode to an end.” Sabnani agreed to retract his comments and offered his apologies for the distress caused.
4. Noble Group
Embattled commodity trader Noble Group didn’t start out a small cap, but after a major commodity downturn and reports from Iceberg Research questioning its accounting, the share price and the company’s fortunes tumbled.
Noble requested its shares be suspended from trading on 16 November as part of a restructuring process. The shares closed at S$0.081 on that day, a far cry from their height of around S$18.14 touched in early 2011.
The debt-for-equity restructuring plan was in the works for nearly two years but was thrown into disarray at the eleventh hour after Singaporean authorities last month started investigating the company and its subsidiary Noble Resources International for suspected false statements and breaching disclosure requirements.
In early December, Singapore regulators added that Noble wouldn’t be allowed to transfer its stock exchange listing to the restructured entity New Noble amid what it said were “significant uncertainties” over the entity’s financial position.
That forced Noble to push ahead with the restructuring by asking a Bermuda court to appoint an officer to facilitate the process.
On 20 December, Noble said it finally completed its protracted restructuring plan. Shareholders participating in the restructuring will still be getting their allotment of shares in New Noble, just without an exchange to trade them on.
Singapore-style coffee shop operator Kimly took what analysts have said is an unusual step of not just divorcing a beverage distributor it bought, but of retroactively cancelling the acquisition.
In late November, Kimly said that Asian Story Corp. (ASC) which it had acquired in July for S$16 million had received notice that its manufacturing agreement with Pokka Corporation (Singapore) would be terminated with six months’ notice.
That led Kimly to rescind the deal. So far, ASC’s seller, Wang Chia Ye, has repaid S$12 million of the acquisition price to Kimly, with a three-year payment plan for the rest, Kimly said.
The story hasn’t ended there, with Singapore authorities requesting documents and equipment related to Kimly’s IPO and the acquisition, as well as arresting Executive Chairman Lim Hee Liat and Executive Director Chia Cher Khiang for potential violations under the Securities and Futures Act related to false or misleading statements.
Both Lim and Chia have been released on bail and they will continue to assist in investigations and no formal charges have been made against them, Kimly said in an exchange filing on 4 December.
The authorities haven’t provided any further details of the investigation.
*Leslie Shaffer is an executive editor at Shenton Wire