Hyflux faces creditors for 2nd time since filing for bankruptcy

Water cleaning firm Hyflux faced its creditors last Friday for the second time since it filed for bankruptcy protection, in a bid to rally support to carry through what has proven to be a tough rescue deal.

No definitive answers were given when investors repeatedly asked how much money they could expect to recover.

Only one new figure was shared by EY, the financial adviser: In a liquidation scenario, only senior unsecured creditors, namely banks and note holders, will get paid.

They can expect a recovery rate of 3.8 to 8.7 per cent. Subordinated creditors such as perpetual and preference shareholders will get nothing.

Hyflux chief Olivia Lum opened two town hall sessions at Hyflux Innovation Centre last Friday by addressing why she was not using her own cash to recapitalise Hyflux, despite repeated calls for her to do so.

She told shareholders: "With SM Investments coming into the company, this is effectively a takeover and I no longer will own much shares, in fact almost no shares. So I will no longer be in the driving seat."

Last October, SM Investments, a consortium comprising Salim Group and Medco Group, tabled a deal to invest and lend $560 million to Hyflux in exchange for a 60 per cent stake in the company once it has settled all its debts.

Sources told The Business Times that Ms Lum added to light applause: "I know many people do not like to see my face any more. I'm okay, I'm prepared to step down, I just want to make sure I hand over the company properly to the new investor."

SM Investments has left a 40 per cent equity stake on the table for Hyflux's various stakeholders to share in a rescue plan, she said, adding: "I'm only worried for the papas and mamas, that in the case of liquidation, they will really get zero value... Without support for the rescue plan, the alternative for Hyflux will likely be liquidation."

Hyflux intends to finalise the terms of a restructuring deal by mid-February, including exactly how much in cash or equity each creditor group will be allocated.

A third round of town hall meetings will be on March 13.

Next month, Hyflux will go to the court to ask for approval to call a scheme meeting and all creditors will vote on the scheme of arrangement by the end of March.