By Ameya Karve
(Bloomberg) — A Singapore court on Wednesday ruled in favour of liquidating Hyflux Ltd., following a years-long saga in one of the city-state’s most high-profile distressed cases.
The ruling came in a hearing that was adjourned from July 12 after Utico FZC, one of Hyflux’s suitors, asked to be heard on its application to intervene in the case. Hyflux said last month the judicial manager terminated discussions with United Arab Emirates-based Utico as it was unable to meet the conditions required.
The hearing comes after the court-appointed manager in charge of the troubled water-treatment company since November applied last month to wind up the firm. Judicial manager Borrelli Walsh Ltd. said in a statement in June that “the remaining value” of the Hyflux Group is best realized in a liquidation.
The decision may cap a drawn-out saga around the company, which has left retail investors and creditors holding losses. Hyflux began a court-supervised debt restructuring process in May 2018 and faced about S$2.8 billion of claims. It received multiple offers from several bidders along the way, none of which concluded.
The court on Wednesday also asked Utico to pay S$5,000 to the judicial manager because it applied to be heard without having ownership of any Hyflux debt or tie-ups with any of its creditors. Even as the hearing sets Hyflux on the path to liquidation, the company still awaits probes from Borelli Walsh and several Singapore government agencies.
Hyflux said last month that the judicial manager has gathered the information necessary to conduct thorough enquiries into the assets, business affairs and dealings of the group. In June 2020, Singapore authorities launched a joint investigation into the firm and its directors that included suspected 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 will acquire from it the remaining 30% stake in a desalination plant for S$12 million. Bloomberg News had reported in June that sales in the liquidation process would likely bring in less than S$200 million, a fraction of the amount creditors are claiming.
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