Blumont queries SGX's lifting of trading halt, reveals new chairman

Reuters

* Blumont says expressed concerns to SGX

* New chairman sees large scale growth

* Blumont shares end flat after earlier rally

By Rujun Shen

SINGAPORE, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Singapore-listed Blumont GroupLtd, which has lost more than S$6 billion ($4.81billion) in market value over four turbulent trading days,questioned the wisdom of the bourse's decision to unlock itsshares from suspension.

Blumont was one of three companies suspended by theSingapore Exchange Ltd on Friday after their shareprices plummeted by 40 to 60 percent. The bourse said then thatinvestors may not be fully cognizant of the companies' affairs.

On Monday, the Singapore Exchange allowed Blumont's sharesto resume trading but under certain conditions. The resumptionof trade saw their share price continue to slide.

James Hong, one of Blumont's executive directors, toldreporters in Singapore on Tuesday that the company had expressedconcern to the bourse on Sunday and that investors should havemore time to digest what had happened to the stock.

"We were kind of concerned because a lot of investors mightnot have the full picture on what was going on. We were certainthere would be a lot of panic," he said.

"That's why we consulted the exchange, telling them maybethey should hold on for a few more days," Hong added,acknowledging though that they are bound by the exchange'srules.

In response to the trading halt, Blumont put out a statementlate on Friday saying it was dropping the proposed takeover ofAustralian-listed coal minter Cokal Ltd that it hadannounced earlier that day.

Blumont also said it understood a Singapore broking househad recently declared its shares as "designated securities."That means investors cannot short-sell them, and purchases viathe broking house must be paid for upfront with cash.

Local brokerages sometimes put a trading limit on a stock ifthey believe it has run up above what they believe is a fairvaluation.

The decline in Blumont's shares persisted on Monday, withthe stock ending down 85 percent.

The stock only steadied on Tuesday after an announcement byBlumont late on Monday that Alexander Molyneux had agreed toacquire a 7.8 percent stake in Blumont and become its chairman.The mining industry veteran has since said Blumont will continueto invest in commodities as it aims to become "Asia's BHP."

Molyneux, who is chairman of two companies in which Blumontholds stakes, Celsius Coal and uranium investment firmAzarga Resources, told reporters on Tuesday that he approachedBlumont over the weekend about investing and becoming itschairman.

"I went to Taipei where I had an engagement on Saturday, onFriday night. On the long flight there, I suddenly thought thiscould be an opportunity and started phone calls on Saturday," hesaid.

BHP OF ASIA

Blumont, which was previously involved in the packaging,property and investment sectors, started investing last year ina number of companies in sectors such as iron ore, coal, gold,uranium and copper.

Molyneux said the company will continue to invest in allstages of production in the resources sector and should become amajor player in the commodities industry.

"Its strategy is not going to change, we are on our way tobecome Asia's BHP," he said, referring to Australian mininggiant BHP Billiton , which has a market value of$166 billion.

The former resources banker with Citi and UBS, known as adeal maker, was sacked as chief executive of SouthGobi ResourcesLtd last year after Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) dropped a bid to take control of SouthGobi.

He was swept out at a time when global miner Rio Tinto , which indirectly controls SouthGobi, wasdealing with other tough issues in Mongolia around its OyuTolgoi copper and gold mine.

He cautioned though that the sudden fall in share pricewould limit the company's ability to raise capital.

"Blumont is funded to do what it set out to do, I don'texpect the share price to hang around here too long, but itcertainly doesn't have the same equity raising capacity as a $5billion company," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the newsconference.

The Singapore Exchange lifted trading halts on Blumont,along with other companies Asiasons Capital Ltd andLionGold Corp Ltd on Sunday. But it declared thestocks designated securities.

The companies fell sharply on Monday, then rallied onTuesday morning, before turning lower again in the afternoon.

Blumont shares closed flat at S$0.13, Asiasons ended down22.7 percent at S$0.12 and LionGold was 24 percent lower atS$0.19.

Blumont director Hong said the company remains in an activedialogue with the Singapore Exchange.

"We are in constant communication right now, to ensure theexchange knows our plan, knows what we are doing. Of course thishas to be communicated not only to the exchange, but to theinvesting public," he said.

Discovery Metals Ltd, an Australian copper minerand one of Blumont's recent investment targets, became a victimof the recent turmoil in Blumont's shares and saw its sharessink 18 percent to an all-time low of A$0.054.

Last month, Blumont agreed to subscribe to $100 million inconvertible bonds and A$8.75 million ($8.25 million) in a shareplacement in Discovery Metals. The bonds have yet to be issued.

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