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Hyflux gets new S$485m cash, stock offer from Utico

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Utico said it has upped its proposed rescue package to a minimum of S$485 million comprising cash and stock, details of which were sent to Hyflux and all creditor parties.

UTICO has again revised its proposed rescue package for Hyflux, this time promising a bigger return to creditors.

In a press statement on Thursday, the Middle Eastern utility firm said it has upped its offer to a minimum of S$485 million comprising cash and stock, details of which were sent to Hyflux and all creditor parties. 

Utico did not disclose full details of the new rescue plan in its statement.

Under the latest proposal, the return to both the unsecured senior creditors and the retail investors of Hyflux’s preference shares and perpetual securities (PnP) will be “more than 10 per cent” higher than what had been available under the restructuring agreement inked on Nov 26 last year, Utico said.

Small PnP holders - those with holdings of less than S$10,000 - can now expect 15 per cent to 50 per cent recovery, as they will each get S$1,500 or 50 per cent, whichever is lower. Meanwhile, larger PnP holders will see at least 10 per cent recovery. Utico did not specify whether the investors will receive these in cash and whether it will be an upfront or deferred payment.

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The Emirati firm said the plan will benefit about 21,000 small PnP holders, as well as 12,000 to 13,000 larger PnP holders.

Advisers will also receive their fees from a S$40 million pot as set out in the Nov 26 restructuring agreement. In January, Utico had tried a carrot-and-stick approach by saying it would either increase this pot to S$50 million if all advisers supported the scheme, or shrink it to S$30 million if the advisers failed to give their support.

Trade creditors will also be paid as per the Nov 26 restructuring agreement, under the potential white knight’s newest plan.

The offer has been extended to close by Aug 30, as requested by Hyflux and its stakeholders during a June 25 stakeholders’ meeting, according to Utico.

The potential investor said the higher offer and the extension of the deadline were considered a de facto extension of the Nov 26 restructuring agreement.

“The extension also allows for the scheme, as filed in the court by Hyflux creditors, to proceed with higher recovery,” Utico said, adding that this will save time, further costs and value leakage.

Last November, Utico and Hyflux signed a S$400 million rescue deal. It would have seen Utico subscribing for S$300 million new shares in the troubled Singapore water treatment firm for a resultant 95 per cent stake, and granting Hyflux an up to S$100 million working capital line.

The earlier agreement was for Utico to set aside S$250 million in cash to settle around S$1.6 billion of debts. It would also use up to S$100 million to pay off the S$900 million owed to the PnP retail investors.

However, in May, the utility firm made a stark change to its offer, demanding all Hyflux creditors accept shares of Utico and Hyflux as payment, instead of cash as initially agreed. The Securities Investors Association (Singapore) had dubbed the less favourable deal a “bombshell” for the PnP holders.

Utico said on Thursday that with its increasing order book and its aspirations to be the leading provider of sustainable utilities solutions worldwide, “this acquisition will give all shareholders of Utico and Hyflux assured better return prospects over the coming years”.

“Shareholders of Utico are keen to conclude this deal at the earliest, and proceed to building value for all stakeholders of Utico and Hyflux,” it added.

On July 27, the Singapore High Court will hear the applications by an unsecured working group (UWG) of banks and by ESR-Reit to be carved out of the distressed water treatment firm’s debt moratorium. The UWG comprises Mizuho, KfW, Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered Bank, CTBC Bank and Korea Development Bank.

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