Singapore

25% payout for T4 subcontractors

High Court approves scheme for Changi Airport contractor Acesian Star's 75 creditors

A group of subcontractors who have been owed payment for their work on Changi Airport's Terminal 4 (T4) are set to receive a 25 per cent payout after waiting for more than a year, The Straits Times understands.

The latest development came after the High Court approved a payout scheme last Wednesday for contractor Acesian Star's 75 creditors.

According to documents seen by ST, they are said to be owed more than $12 million in all.

T4, which cost about $985 million to build, opened on Oct 31.

The court decision brought relief to creditors, including smaller subcontractors.

Many of the creditors had voted in August in favour of the scheme, which will see them each getting 25 per cent of what they have been owed from Acesian Partners, the sole shareholder of Acesian Star.

Some said they chose this option to "cut their losses".

One of them is Pro-Flex Engineering, which supplies and installs electrical works.

Director Raymond Lim said in a July affidavit obtained by ST that it was owed around $816,500, and that he did not wish to wait any longer.

Another company is See Ho, which specialises in air-conditioning systems. It is set to get back more than $760,000.

Senior manager Beh Chiu Hock said: "This money is very important to smaller companies like ours. If we did not have reserves from over 30 years of business, we might have had to stop operations."

REDUCED

On how the long wait has hurt his firm, he said: "We had more than 200 staff about a year ago, but now we have reduced headcount to about 70."

The payout scheme excludes Acesian Star's largest creditor, T4's main contractor Takenaka Corporation.

Acesian Star has disputed the Japanese firm's claims, which - according to a Singapore Exchange announcement it made in May - stand at about $27 million. The sum includes claims for back charges and liquidated damages.

According to court documents obtained by ST, Acesian said its works had not been delayed.

Instead, its judicial managers are claiming more than $31 million against Takenaka for T4's works.

They referred the disputes to arbitration in September.

Last week's court decision is the latest in a series of developments on the dispute between Acesian Star and Takenaka Corporation, which smaller subcontractors said had impacted them.

With Acesian Star in judicial management, some firms found themselves unable to start enforcement proceedings to recover the money they are owed.

The judicial managers pay off the debts as and when money becomes available.

Delays to payouts continued even as Acesian Partners, the sole shareholder of Acesian Star, earlier tendered $2.8 million for the proposed scheme.

This money was to be held with the judicial managers until the scheme was approved.

COURT & CRIME