Sias chief calls for answers as Hyflux debt revamp drags on

PHOTO: The Business Times

Investors looking forward to Hyflux's second round of townhall meetings on Friday may have to wait a little longer before a detailed survival plan is laid out.

The Business Times understands that Hyflux is not yet ready to present a restructuring plan to its retail investors, as discussions with various stakeholders are ongoing.

Instead, the water-cleaning company's perpetual and preference share holders can expect to receive another status update, as well as a look at its latest restructuring timetable during Friday's sessions.

Hyflux had previously said that it hopes to reach a deal with its creditors via a court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement by April. Its court-sanctioned debt moratorium lasts till Apr 30.

On Thursday, David Gerald, who heads the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) or Sias, urged Hyflux chairman and chief executive Olivia Lum to put more skin in the game.

He said: "As Sias understands, Hyflux investors would like to hear from the Hyflux majority shareholder as to what sort of involvement there will be, if any, from her in this restructuring exercise and if not, why not?"

Going by the recent other successful restructuring exercises, affected investors have also seen the majority shareholder providing capital to some extent to demonstrate alignment of interest with the investors."

Sias helped Hyflux to arrange Friday's townhall meetings, its second since it filed for court protection in May last year.

After the first townhall meetings took place in July, a consortium comprising Salim Group and Medco Group tabled a deal to inject and lend S$560 million into Hyflux in exchange for a 60 per cent stake in the company once it has settled all its debts.

Mr Gerald said: "Investors rightfully expect that the company has done the necessary due diligence to ensure that the best deal is achieved for them.

"Hyflux retail investors are expecting to hear from the company tomorrow to what extent they can recover their investments and on what terms and within what period."

On Nov 23, Hyflux said that it would need up to two months to sound out all stakeholders before putting a viable restructuring plan to creditors' vote.

That comment came following media reports that certain financial creditors and medium-term noteholders had rejected outright a preliminary plan floated by Hyflux's financial adviser EY, partly because it called for Hyflux's current management to be allocated a 3 per cent stake in the enlarged share capital of the company post-revamp.

That's an implied equity value of around S$20 million for the management team, even though the same team has run Hyflux since it began to perform poorly from 2009, wrote Debtwire.

This article was first published in The Business Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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