SGX to revise minimum trading price rule

In one of my previous articles on Singapore Exchange’s minimum trading price (MTP) rule, I questioned whether the MTP framework will actually serve its intent of preventing market manipulations. Following that article, SGX recently proposed changes that will allow stocks with larger market capitalization to avoid the fate of being included in the watch list.

The MTP rule was implemented under SGX’s ex-CEO, Magnus Bocker’s era. Bocker’s tenure in SGX is generally viewed by many as negative because of the many unpopular changes he tried to implement. MTP was one of them, the other being the scrapping of the 90-minute lunch break to allow continuous trading.

Background of MTP

To his credit, Bocker did help to diversify SGX’s revenue stream through the expansion of derivative product offerings. However, he overlooked the importance of continuing to build the capital market portfolio for SGX. In addition, under his leadership, retail investors’ activities waned substantially. Of course it is not fair to put the entire blame on him for the lackluster market participation as economic climate plays a large part as well. But then again, as CEO, he did not implement any note-worthy initiatives to attract retail investors either.


It also did not help that many retail investors lost a lot of money after dabbling in Blumont, LionGold and Asiasons Capital.

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Frightening HDB rules

If you managed to purchase a new HDB flat, especially a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat, you would have made your first pot of gold. This is because new HDB flats are heavily subsidized and after meeting the Minimum Occupation Period, they can be sold to the open market for substantial profits. So congratulations and lucky you! But there are a few frightening HDB rules that Singaporeans must know. Failing to do so may hamper your financial plan or even worse, damage your wealth.

In this article, I will touch on some of the important HDB rules. Note that the information is based on my best understanding of the rules. If there is any factual error, kindly highlight to me.

Eligibility to buy

Most Singaporeans thought that they are entitled to buy new subsidized flats like BTO, Executive Condominium (EC) and Design, Build, Sell Scheme (DBSS) twice. Actually, they are only half-correct. Yes, Singapore citizens are entitled to buy new subsidized property twice in total but not twice per type of property. This means that if you have bought a new BTO flat, subsequently you are not allowed to apply for BTO flat again. You can only apply to purchase new EC or DBSS.

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Three tenets of successful investing

As a wealth builder, I constantly ask myself how I can improve my investing skills in order to make more money.  I view wealth as a journey, rather than a destination point. That is why I chose the name, “SG Wealth Builder” for this blog. Investing is important component of wealth building. So in this article, I will pen down my thoughts on the three tenets of successful investing.


In investing, different people have different approaches and styles. Some people like to buy and hold blue chips while there are others who invest solely in Reits for dividend incomes. Then there are value investors who buy stocks at bargain price and sell them for capital appreciation. Growth investors look at companies with potential to grow and thus are willing to pay a premium for stocks that are trading at high price-to-earning ratio. At the end of the day, it does not matter which strategies you adopt as long as it yield positive results over time.

The worst thing in investing is not having a strategy and invest for the sake of investing. Without the clarity of thoughts and a proper framework in mind, the chance of winning the stock market is very slim.

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K1 Ventures announced another capital reduction

On 3 August 2016, K1 Ventures announced another capital reduction of $0.075 in cash for each ordinary share in the capital of the company. This represents another round of mini-windfall for K1 Ventures investors. The capital reduction was announced at a time when its parent company, Keppel Corp is struggling under the current oil price crisis climate.

K1 Ventures is the investment arm of Keppel Corp specializing in business acquisitions. It invests primarily in the US market and has held stakes in transportation leasing company (Helm Holding), energy (Freeport McMoran Exploration), education (Knowledge Universal Holding, KUH) and financial (Guggenheim). As a venture capitalist, its business model is to acquire companies and turn them around to sell for profits.

K1 Venture

Helm by Chairman and CEO Steven Jay Green, K1 Ventures’ management has an incredible investment track record. Over the years, the company has divested many assets and consistently delivered huge dividends for shareholders. In fact, since 2005, K1 Ventures announced dividends and capital reductions to reward shareholders.

For the uninitiated, capital reduction basically means reducing the capital of the company and return to shareholders. However, unlike dividends, capital reduction will result in the reduction of the company’s Net Asset Value (NAV) from $207,732,000 to $175,248,000.

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Buy gold bullion in Singapore

The current dismal economy outlook and stock market conditions may entice many wealth builders to buy gold and silver bullion. After all, the price of gold has surged by 25% in the first half of this year, making it one of the best performing assets. You can buy gold bullion in Singapore from local bank UOB or various bullion dealers.

According to the latest World Gold Council report, gold continued its red-hot form, with global gold demand reaching 2,335 tons in the first half of 2016, 16% higher than the previous record in H1 2009. During the second quarter, overall gold demand grew to 1,050t, up 15% from the Q2 2015 figure of 910t. The growth was due to considerable investment demand as a result of global economic and political uncertainties.

The Chinese always has a penchant for gold and like to buy gold bullion. So not surprisingly, for the past 10 years, China has become the world’s largest gold producer and importer. The Chinese banks play a key role in making a gold hub in China through a range of gold-related business activities. In fact, more than 50% of investment demand involving sales of gold bars and coins is fulfilled through commercial banks’ network of branches.

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Straco Corp’s latest financial performance

In my previous article, I wrote about Straco Corp‘s company profile and its acquisition of Singapore Flyer back in 2014. This blog post will analyse Straco Corp’s latest financial performance.

On 10 August 2016, Straco Corp reported a 5.2% decline in Group revenue to $27.86 million for the second quarter ended 30 June 2016 compared to 2Q2015. The decline in revenue was due to lower number of visitors for its two aquariums in China. Interestingly, Singapore Flyer reported higher revenue for 2Q2016 on improved ticket yield. Cumulatively, the Group revenue for 1H2016 decreased marginally by 0.5%. Even though there was increased revenue at Singapore Flyer, this was offset by declines at the China aquariums.

Based on the latest earning report, the slow down in China definitely has an impact on Straco Corp’s earning. Below is the 5 year trend of the company’s revenue.

Straco Corp Revenue
Straco Corp Revenue (in millions)

Dividends per share have been increasing for the last four years. However, there are signs that the growth in dividends has reached a plateau. During the quarter, the company paid out dividends of $21.48 million for the financial year ended 31 December 2015. As at 30 June 2016, the Group’s cash and cash equivalent balance amounted to $124.69 million.

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ISOTeam shines in stock market

On 5 August 2016, ISOTeam announced that it has clinched 13 new private and public sector contracts worth $20.11 million. The listed company is a specialist in the eco-conscious Repairs and Redecoration (“R&R”), Addition and Alteration (“A&A”) and complementary niche services.

ISOTeam contracts

This is a winning streak for ISOTeam as the company has a reputation for securing contracts because of its excellent track record in project delivery and early adopter of green technologies for its projects. As Singapore drives environmental sustainability in the building and construction industry, companies like ISOTeam will continue to thrive and grow.

ISOTeam has also started to build new capabilities in the renewable energy sector. In early 2016, it has installed Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic Systems on roofs of 33 blocks at Tampines estate worth approximately $1.8 million. Recently, it has won a $0.20 million contract to install Emergency Fuel Cell Operating Power Systems as back-up power generators for lifts of a number of HDB blocks at Punggol. Wealth builders should note this green initiative because it is likely that this may be implemented in more public housing in Singapore, indicating a potential huge untapped market to penetrate.

ISOTeam shares

Of course, Singapore market is too small and is saturated with many players.

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Explosive Surge of Silver Price

Based on data from LBMA, silver price has increased 44.7 percent in the first half of 2016. The explosive surge of silver reflected many investors’ interest in silver in light of the current global market uncertainties. Interestingly, silver has also outperformed all other precious metals as wealth builders accumulated more silver in the first half of 2016.

Following the record demand seen in 2015, investors’ demand for silver bars has weakened some during this period. This is because in 2015, silver was in a bear market and investors seized the opportunity to accumulate silver bars on the cheap, with the view of potential price appreciation. Since then, the price of silver has galloped and this has somewhat dampened the demand for silver bars.


On the other hand, silver coin sales increased by 29% globally, according to GFMS Thomson Reuters Quarterly Coin Sales Survey. Coin sales enjoy double digits increase across all major regions, such as North America, Asia and Europe. Unlike gold bullion coin sales, which fluctuate according to its prices, silver coin sales have remained resilient since 2010.

2015 has been a disastrous year for the commodity as prices fell across almost all the commodity assets. Silver was no exception as it fell below the support level of US$15 per ounce.

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The story of Straco Corp and Singapore Flyer

In one of my previous articles, I wrote about the fate of Underwater World Singapore. In response to my article, a reader mentioned about Straco Corp and this prompted me to research on the company.

Listed on SGX mainboard since 2004, Straco Corp was found by local entrepreneur, Wu Hsioh Kwang who is the Vice-President (Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce), Vice-Chairman of Tourism & Leisure, Chinese Business Group (Singapore Business Federation) and Vice Chairman of the 4th Standing Committee of Chinese Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment (China).

Not much else is known about Mr Wu except that he spent 30 years doing tourism-related business in China. In fact, he has two very successful aquariums in China, one is the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, while the other is Underwater World Xiamen. What prompted Mr Wu to see the potential and subsequently invested in Singapore Flyer is a mystery.


When Straco Corp splashed out $140 million for the Singapore Flyer back in 2014, the iconic attraction was in a bad shape. The company that ran the flyer was facing financial problems and Straco stepped in to buy over the asset. By then, the number of visitors had declined due to stiff competition from other attractions and tenants were having poor businesses.

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OCBC share price sank on release of 2Q16 results

OCBC share price dropped from a high of $9.00 to $8.35 upon the release of poor 2Q16 results. Second quarter earnings fell a whopping 15% year-on-year due to lower insurance income from subsidiary Great Eastern Holding (GEH).

For OCBC, the insurance segment, driven by GEH, represents one of the most profitable income sources. Operating profits from insurance segment was $120 million, the third highest among OCBC’s business segments. The earning contributions from GEH fell 66% due to the absence of a $105 million gain from the sale of an asset in 2Q15. However, GEH’s underlying insurance business actually performed well in this quarter, with new sales increased by 23%, led by growth across distribution channels in Singapore and Malaysia. Due to the unrealized mark-to-market losses in GEH’s equity and bond investments, profit from GEH’s life insurance recorded a dismal 19% drop.

SG Wealth Builder

Apart from insurance segment, OCBC also witnessed poor performance in its “bread and butter” segment – corporate loans. Like all commercial banks, OCBC derived its major income from loans made to corporates and public sector. For second quarter, net interest income declined 2% to $1.26 billion from $1.28 billion a year ago. Customer loan balances decreased 2% due to lower trade loans and reduced offshore borrowings from Chinese customers.

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