The Wayward Son?
In February last year, Margin of Safety pointed out the special situations opportunity in Lion Asiapac Limited (LAP). LAP was trading at S$0.265 then. The value proposition was that if LAP were to dispose of its stake in Shanghai listed Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (AJA), the NET CASH on its balance sheet will swell to S$0.44 per share, a whopping S$0.17 above the then market price.
The ensuing financial crisis meant that LAP failed to dispose of the AJA shares above the price floor of RMB7.50. However, the recent recovery in global, in particular, Chinese equity markets have given LAP much cause for cheer. AJA has traded back up above the floor price, thereby allowing LAP to partially dispose of its stake.
As on 15 Sept, LAP has disposed approximately 2% of its 6.16% stake in AJA. The sales netted total consideration of Rmb189.46 million.
By our updated estimates, the net cash per share on the balance sheet increases to S$0.21 per share (assuming the 2% were all conservatively sold at S$0.21). Completing the entire disposal program means net cash per share of at least S$0.41, still way above today's market price for LAP at S$0.32 a share.
Enthused by the recent strong property sales in Chinese market, LAP had proposed to go into property development in China. The mandate, however, was wisely (in our opinion) thrown out by minority shareholders at an EGM yesterday. This effectively leaves the possibility of LAP being a company trading under net cash when the remaining stake in AJA are progressively disposed in the days ahead. Whilst management do not have a track record of doling out special dividends, there is little reason for a company to trade under its net cash value when it is not under any particular duress.
In recent meetings, minority shareholders have increasingly made their presence felt and views ahead. Besides vetoing the mandate to do property development, many have also loudly articulated the need for a special dividend. We expect increasing media focus on this tussle in the days ahead as the small investor turns up the heat on management for a special dividend from a company which will soon trade under its net cash value. Perhaps if you are convinced about the merits of our argument, you may wish to pick up several lots of LAP and make your voice heard too.