Singapore court favors liquidation of Hyflux in end of sign saga

(Bloomberg) – A Singapore court ruled Wednesday in favor of liquidating Hyflux Ltd., following a multi-year saga in one of the city-state’s most high-profile distressed cases.

The decision came in a hearing that was adjourned on July 12 after Utico FZC, one of Hyflux’s suitors, asked to be heard on his request to intervene in the case. Hyflux said last month that the court official ended talks with UAE-based Utico because he was unable to qualify.

The hearing comes after the court-appointed director in charge of the water treatment company struggling since November last month asked for the company to be liquidated. Judicial Director Borrelli Walsh Ltd. said in a statement in June that “the remaining value” of the Hyflux group is best realized in a liquidation.

The move could put an end to a long saga around the company, which has left retail investors and creditors with losses. Hyflux began a court-supervised debt restructuring process in May 2018 and has faced around S $ 2.8 billion ($ 2.1 billion) in claims. He received several offers from several bidders along the way, none of which were concluded.

On Wednesday, the court also asked Utico to pay S $ 5,000 to the judicial director, as he requested to be heard without having ownership of any Hyflux debt or ties to any of his creditors. Even though the hearing puts Hyflux on the path to liquidation, the company is still awaiting inquiries from Borelli Walsh and several Singapore government agencies.

Hyflux said last month that the judicial officer had gathered the information necessary to conduct thorough investigations into the group’s assets, cases and transactions. In June 2020, Singaporean authorities launched a joint investigation into the company and its directors that included alleged false and misleading statements and breaches of disclosure requirements.

A piecemeal sale of Hyflux’s assets has already started, with the company announcing earlier this month that Keppel Infrastructure Trust would buy it the remaining 30% stake in a desalination plant for S $ 12 million. Bloomberg News reported in June that sales as part of the liquidation process would likely bring in less than S $ 200 million, a fraction of the amount claimed by creditors.

(Updates with more detail in the fifth and sixth paragraphs.)

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