Singapore

Singapore is bracing for a further jump in bankruptcies after cases surged to the highest in years even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Bloomberg News reported. The number of individuals filing for bankruptcy soared 47% from a year earlier to 434 in January, the highest since October 2004, according to the latest data from the Law Ministry’s Insolvency Office. Companies in liquidation jumped to 287 last year, the highest since records began in 2005. Singapore’s already-slowing economy is now poised to shrink as the virus slams trade and tourism.

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Singapore’s most high-profile restructuring case has attracted a new offer from a Spanish company, adding more uncertainty to a drawn-out process that’s left many retail investors in the lurch, Bloomberg News reported. Water treatment firm Hyflux Ltd. said in an exchange filing that FCC Aqualia SA, which is also in the water management business, plans a potential transaction involving it or its assets, without giving details. Hyflux investors have already been evaluating two different takeover offers and one debt-purchase plan.

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Hong Kong plans to introduce its version of U.S.-style “Chapter 11” bankruptcy provisions, a senior government official said, as the city’s worst economic predicament in decades threatens the viability of many companies, Reuters reported. Hong Kong does not have a formal corporate rescue framework, unlike most other major financial centers including fierce rival Singapore, after previous attempts to introduce one met with resistance from lawmakers and labor representatives who were worried plans did not offer enough protection for workers.

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The Securities Investors Association (Singapore) invited Hyflux Ltd. to a townhall meeting for the company to respond to investors’ concerns about its debt-restructuring plan, Bloomberg News reported. SIAS proposed holding the townhall between March 11 and 17, the association said in a letter posted on its website. The investor advocacy group will hold a follow-up meeting with its advisers and investors.

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Commodity trader Trafigura has reached an agreement to buy and then sell on a stake in Puma Energy from a retired Angolan general, aiding the efforts of the debt-laden fuel supplier to attract more lenders and investors, the Financial Times reported. Under a complex deal announced on Monday, Cochan Holdings, an investment vehicle controlled by Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento — widely known as “General Dino” — will reduce its stake in Puma from 15 per cent to less than 5 per cent.

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Hontop Energy (Singapore) Pte Ltd, the trading arm of a Shandong-based refiner, has gone into receivership, according to its business profile on the website of Singapore’s accounting and corporate regulator, Reuters reported. Singapore bank DBS, one of Hontop’s creditors, has appointed accounting firm KPMG as the receiver, a KPMG official told Reuters. DBS declined to comment. “Hontop continues to be run by the existing management. The receiver has been appointed over specific charged assets which mainly relate to one trade transaction financed by DBS.

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Koon Holdings on Wednesday said that creditors have approved the scheme of arrangement for its subsidiary Koon Construction & Transport (KCT), as part of the group’s debt restructuring exercise, the Business Times reported. However, Koon Holdings has yet to put its own proposed scheme to a vote, as its creditors’ meeting on Tuesday was adjourned. Before the meeting began, a major creditor had requested the adjournment because it would like to receive more information before committing its vote, Koon Holdings said in a bourse filing.

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Singapore’s embattled water treatment firm Hyflux Ltd. has received interest from a new investor, a day before its next court hearing, adding yet another twist to the nation’s most high-profile debt restructuring case that has dragged for more than 18 months, Bloomberg News reported. Hyflux received a letter from Longview International Holdings expressing interest in investing in the company together with an undisclosed “major Chinese entity” as a joint venture partner, according to a filing. The statement didn’t provide any further details on the plan.

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Singapore Exchange Ltd. published a list of firms that are now required to provide quarterly earnings reports based on its risk-based approach, a few weeks after the city-state scrapped the requirement for most companies, Bloomberg News reported. Hyflux Ltd. and Best World International Ltd. were among 109 names published on the SGX website. The companies either have a qualified report from auditors, worries about them as a going concern or have been identified by the exchange itself for regulatory concerns.

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Aqua Munda, the little-known investor looking to purchase about S$1.8 billion worth of Hyflux’s debts, has extended the deadline of its offer for the second time, CNA reported. It is giving eligible creditors about three more weeks until 5pm on Feb 22 to submit their bids, Aqua Munda said in a press statement on Monday (Feb 3), citing “significant additional concerns” about Hyflux’s situation following a change of legal advisers at the embattled water treatment firm.

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