Pacific Andes in breach of bond agreement, says HSBC

Pacific Andes Resources had a shake-up at the top last month when exec chairman Ng Joo Siang stepped down as a director and chairman. On Sunday, the company said in an SGX filing that it got a letter from bond trustee HSBC Holdings alleging breaches on th
Pacific Andes Resources had a shake-up at the top last month when exec chairman Ng Joo Siang stepped down as a director and chairman. On Sunday, the company said in an SGX filing that it got a letter from bond trustee HSBC Holdings alleging breaches on the 2017 securities. That adds a twist to skirmishes at the firm amid court battles and regulatory probes into its business transactions. ST FILE PHOTO

Troubles at fishery group may lead to another default in S'pore bond market

Singapore's bond market may see its second default in as many months after creditors said Pacific Andes Resources Development has not honoured some obligations on $200 million of notes.

The Hong Kong-based company said in a Singapore Exchange (SGX) filing on Sunday that it received a letter from bond trustee HSBC Holdings alleging breaches on the 2017 securities.

Investors can request full immediate repayment if the company's shares are suspended, according to the bond's terms. Pacific Andes Resources has halted trading in Singapore since Nov 25 last year.

The letter from HSBC adds a new twist to skirmishes at the troubled fishery group amid court battles and regulatory probes in Singapore and Hong Kong into its business transactions.

Last November, Singapore's bond market had its first default since 2009 when Indonesian phone retailer Trikomsel Oke missed coupon payments on its debt.

"This situation is opening a can of worms in Singapore," said Mr Raymond Chia, head of credit research for Asia ex-Japan at Schroder Investment Management in Singapore. "Very few local corporate bonds are rated and a number of issuers have weak credit profiles or challenging business dynamics, and that's starting to show."

A CAN OF WORMS

This situation is opening a can of worms in Singapore.
Very few local corporate bonds are rated and a number of issuers have weak credit profiles or challenging business dynamics, and that's starting to show.

MR RAYMOND CHIA, head of credit research for Asia ex-Japan at Schroder Investment Management in Singapore, referring to Pacific Andes Resources Development's possible bond defaults.

Singapore investors have turned to high-yielding bonds in the past seven years after interest rates hit a record low in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The number of notes with coupons of over 6 per cent - a level associated with the speculative grade in the local market - jumped from one in 2010 to 24 in 2014 before falling to 13 last year.

Notes issued by Pacific Andes Resources and its unit, China Fishery Group, are mired in distressed levels. The 8.5 per cent bonds due in July next year were last quoted at 20.5 cents on the dollar on Monday, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. The securities fell 34 cents last month, capping a 73-cent plunge for the year.

Hong Kong-listed Pacific Andes International Holdings owns about 66 per cent of Pacific Andes Resources, which in turn controls 69.7 per cent of China Fishery Group, according to company filings.

Both China Fishery and Pacific Andes Resources have to make semi- annual coupon payments on Jan 30.

The Pacific Andes group is seeking to sell its Peru business while it fights some creditors to dismiss winding-up petitions as well as provisional liquidators in Hong Kong and Cayman Islands.

The company is seeking legal advice on the matter and is "in an active dialogue with a substantial holder of the bonds with a view to establishing a transparent process for discussions" with other debt holders, it said in the filing.

Pacific Andes Resources has seen a shake-up at the top. Last month, its executive chairman Ng Joo Siang stepped down as a director and chairman. He was succeeded by his sister Jessie Ng Puay Yee, who will also become a member of the nominating committee of the board.

"There hadn't been a default in the Singapore dollar market in so many years that investors weren't vigilant enough and complacency had set in," said Mr Todd Schubert, head of fixed-income research at Bank of Singapore, OCBC Bank's private banking unit.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'Pacific Andes in breach of bond agreement, says HSBC'. Print Edition | Subscribe