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Nine white knights pool together S$60m in rescue financing for Marco Polo Marine

NINE prominent business names have pooled together S$60 million in rescue financing for listed offshore and marine group, Marco Polo Marine.

The founders or founding families behind household names Super Group, Soilbuild, Goldbell and Yanlord were named in association with the equity injection deal. Oxley Holdings' deputy chief executive Low See Ching and two other Singapore listed entities, Vibrant Group and Penguin International, have also thrown their hats into the ring.

Some, if not all, of those named are business acquaintances of Marco Polo Marine's chief executive, Sean Lee.

The Lees have offered to dilute their shareholding by 90 per cent to just 6 per cent of the enlarged share capital in favour of bringing in these equity investors and deleveraging the group's balance sheet.

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Over two billion new shares valued at S$0.028 will be issued to these nine named investors.

Of the new investors, Apricot Capital - the private investment vehicle of Super Group's founder David Teo - will emerge the largest shareholder with a 19.5 per cent interest in Marco Polo's enlarged share capital after the deal is completed.

Apricot has pledged S$20 million in new equity injection followed by S$10 million each from Penguin International and the private investment arm of Yanlord Land Group's founding chairman and CEO, Zhong Sheng Jian.

Marco Polo confirmed to The Business Times on Wednesday that Apricot and Penguin will also be granted board seats.

Penguin added after trading closed on Wednesday that it has agreed to subscribe to over 357 million shares representing 10 per cent of Marco Polo's enlarged share capital at S$10 million. Of this, S$8 million will be paid by the listed company and another S$2 million by its executive chairman, Jeffrey Hing.

The deals are conditional on - among other things - its total liabilities being pared down to not more than S$12 million prior to the closing of the new investments. The parties involved have agreed to a long-stop date of March 12, 2018.

Marco Polo has over S$258 million of total debts on its books. Mr Lee, the CEO, told BT that about S$200 million are bank loans and the other S$50 million relate to the Singapore dollar note issuance.

UOB is the largest senior lender answering for over S$90 million of the group's bank loans. Five other bank creditors are DBS, OCBC, CIMB, Sumitomo Mitsui Finance & Leasing and Caterpillar Financial Services.

The group has sought restructuring under two separate schemes of arrangement filed with Singapore's High Court.

Its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Marcopolo Shipyard, has also placed itself under Penundaan Kewajiban Pembayaran Utang (PKPU), an Indonesian regime which extends protection from creditors to entities seeking to restructure.

Mr Lee said that the group is seeking about 69 per cent, 71 per cent, and 95 per cent debt forgiveness from its bank lenders, noteholder and for its contingent liabilities, respectively.

New shares will be issued at S$0.035 in part-settlement of these liabilities.

Marco Polo is also proposing to issue over 269 million free warrants to existing shareholders. Each warrant will carry the right to subscribe to one share at the exercise price of S$0.035.

The group intends to hold an extraordinary general meeting in December to table the restructuring plan for shareholders' approval.

Shares in Marco Polo Marine last traded at S$0.059 before trading was suspended.