Mercator Lines back on the hunt for new investors

Mainboard-listed Mercator Lines (Singapore) is back to square one after a lifeline that had been extended to the embattled firm fell through.

Its judicial manager, Mr Yit Chee Wah, told the Singapore Exchange in a filing yesterday that he has terminated an agreement the company had with Mr Nickolaos Mitropoulos and Mr Dimitrios Podaridis.

Mr Yit said the termination was because the two parties have failed to meet certain set conditions, "despite several extensions of time granted by the judicial manager".

"Given the termination of the implementation agreement, the judicial manager will recommence efforts to source for other potential investors for the transfer of the company's listing status," he added.

The agreement, signed in April, was for the proposed transfer of the company's listing status to the two parties by way of a scheme of arrangement. The plan had involved a new firm called Essence Holdco, which was to be incorporated in Singapore and listed on the Catalist board, while Mercator Lines was delisted from the mainboard.

Mr Mitropoulos and Mr Podaridis together wholly own three Australian businesses: Champion Commodities, Country Fresh Milk and Champion Beverages.

Mercator Lines was placed under judicial management in January last year, following an application by its creditor HSH Nordbank to the Singapore courts, and has since been selling its vessels.

Bulk carriers have been one of the the most heavily affected segments in the global shipping industry amid the ongoing downturn, with many still struggling with low freight rates.

Mercator Lines had said in April that the planned backdoor listing, if successful, would "provide some recovery to incumbent shareholders and creditors of the company".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'Mercator Lines back on the hunt for new investors'. Print Edition | Subscribe