Business

Nam Cheong suspends shares amid debt fears

Ailing shipbuilder Nam Cheong yesterday asked for its shares to be suspended, coinciding with concerns that its controlling shareholder, Malaysian tycoon Tiong Su Kouk, has no plans to help the firm clear its debts and ride out the oil price rout.

As a result, bond holders have begun to question the Tiong family's handling of the crisis.

On Thursday, just three days before bond holders were due to receive a $2.4 million interest payment, Nam Cheong announced that it would default on its bonds and cease all other debt repayments, in a late bid to "conserve cash".

The news took some by surprise as the night before, Nam Cheong met with bond holders informally to update them on its restructuring.

"They could have said something regarding that (non-payment) at the meeting. I think this is another indication that Nam Cheong is not transparent enough and does not believe in open communication with bond holders," said one bond holder.

A steering committee representing 60 bond holders is arguing that Nam Cheong has no right to avoid the interest payment. The group has also requested an appointment with executive chairman Datuk Tiong, who was absent from Wednesday's meeting. - THE STRAITS TIMES


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