Clash with lender sparked loss of Aussie assets: IHC

Company clarifies why its properties were put under receivership by Aussie banks

International Healthway Corp (IHC) has issued a statement clarifying the reasons its Australian properties were put under receivership by bank lenders Down Under.

The company said yesterday that the moves came as a result of "uncertainties" that arose after the medical property developer clashed with another lender, Crest Capital Asia, earlier this year.

"Due to the uncertainties created by the actions of the Crest receivers, compliance with the various loan arrangements to Westpac and the National Australian Bank (NAB) were disrupted," IHC said in a statement filed to the Singapore Exchange yesterday.

It claimed that the action from the banks was "not the result of liquidity issues" at the company.

In May, IHC had reported that the Crest funds had appointed receivers over three of its subsidiaries, after issuing notices of default against IHC around April 7.

IHC added yesterday that the Crest receivers had also lodged caveats against IHC's three Australian properties around April 15, claiming an interest in the properties, although they had "no legal basis" to do so.

One of IHC's properties in Melbourne's St Kilda Road. The firm said Crest Capital Asia receivers lodged caveats against its three Australian properties although they had "no legal basis" to do so.
One of IHC's properties in Melbourne's St Kilda Road. The firm said Crest Capital Asia receivers lodged caveats against its three Australian properties although they had "no legal basis" to do so. PHOTO: IHC

"Unfortunately, this lodgement of caveats had caused alarm among the Australian banks," IHC said.

The company also said that NAB and Westpac sought to preserve their interests by appointing receivers over the Australian properties on Aug 25 and 26 respectively, as a consequence of the disputed appointment of the Crest receivers.

But the series of misfortunes stemming from what seems to be a S$34 million debt dispute with Crest Capital did not stop there.

The action by the spooked banks has, in turn, forced the hand of yet another lender down the line.

IHC disclosed yesterday that it had on Tuesday received a notice of event of default from Qualitas Real Estate Finance.

The subordinated lender acted after interest payments made from the rental income of IHC's two office properties in Melbourne's St Kilda Road were curtailed upon the appointment of receivers by Westpac.

Even so, IHC reiterated that the Crest receivers were "appointed wrongfully", in its view. It added: "To date, the Crest funds have not filed any specific claims against the company other than to appoint the Crest receivers."

IHC also reiterated that the two Melbourne buildings and the third property, Geelong Medical Centre, that have been put under receivership and are to be sold, have a combined total fair value of A$114.5 million (S$117.2 million), a sum "well in excess" of the outstanding amount of A$68.1 million currently owed to Westpac, NAB and Qualitas.

IHC affirmed that of the S$34 million outstanding debt claimed by Crest Capital, only S$5.26 million has been recognised on its balance sheet, but the company said it remains in a net asset position of S$207.3 million.

The counter resumed trading and fell 0.2 cent, or 4.35 per cent, to close at 4.4 cents yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2016, with the headline 'Clash with lender sparked loss of Aussie assets: IHC'. Print Edition | Subscribe