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Woo/Wheelock's dealings
8th November 2012

As many readers know, Webb-site includes a tool for analysing the custody holdings of shares in the Central Clearing and Automated Settlement System (CCASS), in which shares must be held to trade on the HK bourse. You can get the holdings in one stock on a given day directly from CCASS, but the Webb-site CCASS Analysis system provides much more functionality - including the ability to look at the holdings on any given day of a CCASS Participant - a bank, broker, or even an Investor Participant if they have consented to be named by CCASS.

Digging around in our own system yesterday, we noticed a Broker Participant called Corrington Securities & Investment Limited (Corrington). This firm has a very low profile. It has only 3 SFC licensed staff, including the minimum 2 Responsible Officers (ROs). Its office is in Room 2301, Wheelock House, the headquarters of Wheelock & Co Ltd (Wheelock, 0020), and its complaints officer has an e-mail address at wiclimited.com, a domain which is registered to Wharf Limited, a subsidiary of Wheelock. Corrington has no web site. When a Webb-site representative phoned to open a brokerage account, we were told that they do not deal with "outsiders".

The latest annual return of Corrington at the Companies Registry shows that it was 50% owned by each of two BVI companies, Andrea Limited (Andrea) and Handale Limited. Andrea was mentioned as a nominee shareholder in a 2003 privatisation document for a subsidiary of Wheelock.

All of this points to Corrington being an in-house broker for Wheelock group and its 60% controlling shareholders, Chairman Peter Woo Kwong-ching (Mr Woo) and his wife Bessie Woo Pao Pui-yung. The couple owns about 11% of Wheelock through BVI companies, and the rest is held by a trust. She is one of the four children, all daughters, of the late shipping and property tycoon Pao Yue Kong, who established the trust. A very organised chap, he named his daughters A, B, C and D - Anna, Bessie, Cissy and Doreen, in order of production.

Now click here to see the current CCASS holdings of Corrington, as of 6-Nov-2012, ranked by value, and you'll be in for a few surprises. The firm's largest holding is 2.06% of fellow developer Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd (0016), valued at HK$5.96bn. Click the history link alongside the holding to see that this has increased from 0.64% at the end of 2011. We don't know whether this stake is held for Wheelock group or for the family.

There are also unsurprising holdings in group companies Wheelock, its 51% subsidiary The Wharf (Holdings) Ltd (Wharf, 0004), Wharf's 71.3% subsidiary Harbour Centre Development Ltd (Harbour Centre, 0051) and Wharf's 73.6% subsidiary i-Cable Communications Ltd (1097). There is also part of the family trust's 72.9% holding in Joyce Boutique Holdings Ltd (0647). Increases in Corrington's holding in Wheelock match directors' dealing disclosures by Mr Woo.

Third on the list is Sino-Ocean Land Holdings Ltd (3377), a 5.84% stake worth HK$1.75bn. This is probably part of the position held by Wharf, which went through the 5% disclosure threshold on 23-Aug-2011. Next comes a 0.64% stake in fashion group Prada S.P.A. (1913), worth HK$1.05bn, built up in the market since 9-Aug-2011. That's interesting because the Woo family also has about a 6% stake in Salvatore Ferragamo Italia Spa, down from an 8% stake before its Milan IPO.

Then there's a 1.17% stake in Longfor Properties Co Ltd (0960) worth HK$899m. That might be part of Peter Woo's personal stake, which on 12-Sep-2012 went through the 5% disclosure threshold. Corrington has held more of it in the past - up to 2.99% on 12-Oct-2011. As it bought the stake, it gradually moved it out to BNP Paribas - 20m on 7-Jan-2011, 30m on 13-Oct-2011 and so on. BNP Paribas moved its position to BNP Paribas Wealth Management (BNPWM) on 13-Dec-2011, and Corrington moved another 50m shares to BNPWM on 28-Jun-2012. Corrington also moved 10m shares to the custody of Standard Chartered Bank (HK) Ltd on 10-Sep-2012.

We note that Mignonne Cheng Dao was appointed as an INED of Wheelock on 1-Jul-2012, but was redesignated as a non-independent NED on 27-Jul-2012 when it was noted that she is employed by BNPWM (in fact she is Chairman and CEO of BNPWM for Asia Pacific), which "may provide banking services to the Group or its connected persons".

Apart from BNPWM, the group also appears to use HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA (HSBCS); we see that on 30-May-2011 a block of 4.68% of Harbour Centre moved from Corrington and was split almost evenly between BNPWM and HSBCS. We see the same pattern on 11-Jan-2011 when a block of shares in insurer AIA Group Ltd (AIA, 1299) moved from Corrington to the two banks. Prior to that Corrington held 0.65% of AIA, then worth about HK$1.76bn. This is consistent with a media report that Mr Woo invested US$200m in the IPO of AIA, which listed on 29-Oct-2010. These movements suggest that what you see in Corrington is only a small portion of the family office, as they move holdings out to the private banks. Buying through Corrington just eliminates brokerage fees.

In 7th place is a HK$430m shareholding (0.16%) of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd (0001). This appears to be a minor trading position which was most recently at zero on 15-oct-2012. Corrington has also had a fluctuating position in Cheung Kong's 49.97% associate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (0013), up to 0.41% or HK$1.38bn on 26-Nov-2010 but currently zero.

So there you have a little peek into the dealings of the Woo family and Wheelock group, courtesy of the Webb-site CCASS Analysis System.

Webb-site.com, 2012


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