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Hyflux suitor Utico says two parties eyeing its shares

TWO interested parties are looking to acquire shares in Utico, and if successful, the deal could value the United Arab Emirates-based utilities group at up to US$1.5 billion.

In a press statement on Friday, Utico did not disclose the size of the stake that may be acquired, but said the parties have interests in the Gulf Cooperation Council, the UK, Singapore and Indonesia.

Utico added that the potential buyers had approached it to become partners in relation to the acquisition of troubled Singapore water treatment firm Hyflux and to grow the Middle Eastern firm.

Even though Utico is "comfortable" to close the transaction on its own now, the company said it is studying the propositions, given that its rescue deal for Hyflux is pending and Utico's stock is not listed and trading publicly yet.

Meanwhile, Utico confirmed on Friday that it has extended the deadline for its revised offer for Hyflux to June 30, provided the Singapore firm does not extend its debt moratorium beyond July 30, among other conditions.

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Utico also asked the Hyflux board to step down immediately, if and when the debt restructuring scheme is approved.

Its revised offer will see all Hyflux creditors accepting shares of Utico and Hyflux as payment, instead of cash as previously stated in the restructuring agreement signed last November.

Meanwhile, a group of bank lenders is seeking to put the beleaguered water treatment firm under judicial management.

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