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DBS loaned US$146m to Swiber in last two months: documents

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DBS Group Holdings, Singapore's biggest bank, made two loans to oil and gas services firm Swiber Holdings totaling US$146 million weeks before the company filed for liquidation, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

[SINGAPORE] DBS Group Holdings, Singapore's biggest bank, made two loans to oil and gas services firm Swiber Holdings totaling US$146 million weeks before the company filed for liquidation, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

Swiber used the money to redeem maturing bonds, an affidavit filed by the company's chairman Raymond Goh showed. These two loans, made in June and July, accounted for 27 percent of DBS's total exposure of S$700 million to Swiber.

Swiber became Singapore's biggest business failure from the oil price slump after filing for liquidation last week.

It dropped the plan to wind up the company on Friday and instead sought judicial management under which an attempt can be made to nurse a company back to health under the supervision of the Singapore Court.

The court has appointed KPMG as the interim judicial manager, lawyers said.

The documents seen by Reuters were part of the company's application made on Tuesday to withdraw formally from the winding up process.

The documents shed light on a high profile casualty of the oil price collapse that has shocked some of Asia's most conservative banks and heightened concerns among investors about the banks' exposure to the troubled industry.

DBS shares are down 6.7 per cent in the past three days, compared with a 2.8 per cent fall in the benchmark index.

Swiber's court filing also highlighted a delay in payment by UK-based fund AMTC which had agreed to a US$200 million deal to buy preference shares in a Swiber subsidiary.

On July 20, Swiber's board decided it would file for compulsory liquidation if the AMTC payment was not received by July 26. AMTC has so far not commented on the issue and could not be reached for a comment on Tuesday.

DBS said in a statement that it had provided financing in the form of a bridging loan to be repaid upon the expected equity injection from the investor.

"Swiber's projects financed by DBS were on track, and it had no overdue payments with the bank," it added.

Swiber said DBS, the largest lender to the company, has expressed its readiness to support the company's latest applications. "There is now a reasonable probability of the company being rehabilitated and surviving (in whole or part) as a going concern," the affidavit said.

Swiber was advised by Singapore law firm BlackOak LLC.

REUTERS