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AusGroup: No certainty yet on terms for bond restructuring

BELEAGUERED oilfield services provider AusGroup said on Sunday in response to a report in The Business Times that negotiations are still ongoing with noteholders and stakeholders pertaining to the efforts to restructure the debt on the company's balance sheet.

After responding to the Sept 2 BT article via a Singapore Exchange (SGX) filing, the company also requested for a trading halt to be lifted.

The Singapore-listed company acknowledged an informal meeting was held on Aug 31 as reported in BT but "there is no certainty to the outcome of these negotiations" .

"The Board considered it prudent not to disclose to the market the current incomplete status of the proposed terms of both the Issuer and the Noteholders so as not to mislead the market," it said.

BT had reported AusGroup's noteholders are seeking a "small" early repayment to give their nod to roll over for another two years some S$110 million of medium term notes (MTN) due in October 2016.

One source had told BT AusGroup's noteholders have sought, among other things, an early redemption of just under 5 per cent of the notes and a slight improvement in the coupon rates.

AusGroup also responded to BT's reference to the scrapping of a plan to hive off the scaffolding and access business.

The company clarified negotiations had ceased with potential buyers by June 2016 because the parties involved were unable to arrive at commercially agreeable terms.

This was over a month prior to Swiber Holdings' announcement on its now aborted winding-up petition, not after the Swiber debacle as indicated in BT, the SGX filing said.

AusGroup also said its board wishes to reiterate it considers the company has been in compliance with all continuous disclosure requirements as defined in the SGX listing rules and it will continue to make the necessary and appropriate announcement/s as and when there are definitive developments.

AusGroup was in breach as at Jun 30 of its requirement to maintain a minimum net worth position and its rolling six-month and 12-month Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation)/interest cover covenants as required under all DBS banking facilities and the Trust Deed of its MTN.

It has obtained a waiver for this breach from DBS while negotiations have been ongoing with its noteholders to restructure its outstanding debt.

Shares in AusGroup last traded at S$0.039.