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HYFLUX SAGA

Hyflux sues SM Investments; appoints Nicky Tan as adviser

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Hyflux could be headed for a debt moratorium extension application as it has added well-known restructuring specialist nTan Corporate Advisory as adviser for its ongoing court-supervised reorganisation process.

Singapore

HYFLUX could be headed for a debt moratorium extension application as it has added well-known restructuring specialist nTan Corporate Advisory as adviser for its ongoing court-supervised reorganisation process.

While Hyflux told The Business Times on Monday that "no decision to extend the moratorium has been made", market observers pointed out that the appointment of nTan Corporate Advisory makes it seem inevitable that there will be an application for a longer period of protection from the High Court.

Hyflux's next status conference will take place on April 25. If it wants to apply to extend the moratorium, it must do so by then.

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The judge at the last case management conference last Thursday said if Hyflux hopes to push out the April 30 expiry date of the court moratorium, a feasible plan is needed before more time can be granted.

A staff member of nTan Corporate Advisory confirmed with BT that Nicky Tan is leading the team advising Hyflux in the latter's latest attempt to stave off liquidation.

Mr Tan is a renowned dealmaker in the local corporate scene, and his firm has been involved in corporate restructuring of over 30 companies.

nTan Corporate Advisory managed to persuade hard disk drive distributor eSys's creditor banks in the mid-2000s to hold off on pursuing legal claims. The firm also helped to design an equity injection from Teledata Informatics, which had approached eSys about a potential investment before nTan was hired, through a structure that was more favourable to eSys.

It also helped fruit distributor and food ingredients maker SunMoon Food (formerly known as Fook Huat Tong Kee) to restructure its debt in the early 2000s, saving it from liquidation in 2007.

Meanwhile, Hyflux has fired the first legal salvo in its dispute with its former suitor SM Investments (SMI) as it filed a lawsuit on Monday in the Singapore High Court for the alleged repudiation of the rescue deal and is claiming the S$38.9 million deposit, said Hyflux in a regulatory filing on Monday.

SMI, which the water treatment company said has denied repudiating the restructuring agreement struck in October 2018, was supposed to be the "white knight" for the debt-ridden Hyflux.

The consortium made up of Salim Group and Medco Group had earlier this month commented that it was "surprised" by Hyflux's "purported termination" of the rescue deal, and will be taking legal advice in relation to the latter's action.

In response to BT's queries, SMI said through its public relations agency on Monday: "We have no further statement to share at this point."

READ MORE: Hyflux: Laundry list of warnings says little about the likelihood of events