ST Kinetics blacklisted in India

STE maintains innocence

No financial impact

India’s bribery scandal

ST Engineering (STE) yesterday morning halted trading of its shares and also put out an announcement in response to a bribery scandal in India. According to an Aviation Week story dated 5 Mar 2012, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has blacklisted six defence firms, including STE’s subsidiary ST Kinetics (STK), from doing business in India over the next 10 years. The MoD’s decision was based on evidence related to illegal gratification to officials, including Sudipto Ghosh, the former Director General of India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

STE maintains innocence

In its announcement yesterday, STE maintains it is a law-abiding group and will now seek legal advice so as to clear its name of any shenanigan. Furthermore, despite media reports of the blacklisting, STK has not received any official notification from the Indian authorities on this matter. In fact, in all the previous court hearings and affidavits filed, the MoD repeatedly said STK was only temporarily suspended, but not blacklisted, as an arms vendor to India. The court hearings were the result of three petitions STE filed with the Delhi High Court in Mar 2011 to seek clarification on the alleged blacklisting.

No financial impact

According to STE, STK has never won any defence contract or exported defence sales to India. STE also understands that developing defence sales to India will be a long process and has not included any expected sales to India’s MoD in its FY12 guidance. Thus, the group expects this blacklisting to have no financial impact on the group’s financial performance and maintains its FY12 guidance.

Maintain BUY

Since this matter has no financial impact on STE, coupled with STE’s vigorous insistence of its innocence, we maintain our BUY rating and fair value estimate of S$3.32/share on STE.

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