SingPost chairman Simon Israel discharged from hospital after missing AGM

Mr Simon Israel, 63, was hospitalised and absent from SingPost's 25th annual general meeting on Thursday (July 20).
Mr Simon Israel, 63, was hospitalised and absent from SingPost's 25th annual general meeting on Thursday (July 20).PHOTO: SINGTEL

SINGAPORE - Mr Simon Israel, chairman of both Singapore Post (SingPost) and Singtel, was discharged from hospital at noon on Friday (July 21), a Singtel spokesman told The Straits Times.

Mr Israel, 63, was hospitalised the morning before, and was therefore absent from SingPost's 25th annual general meeting on Thursday (July 20). The spokesman did not disclose the reason for his hospitalisation.

In a speech at the meeting, read on his behalf by non-executive lead independent director Fang Ai Lian, Mr Israel sought to reassure SingPost shareholders that the company is taking steps to rehabilitate a loss-making acquisition that is at the centre of an internal probe.

Mr Israel acknowledged that "shareholders may have many questions in relation to the summary report".

He was referring to the findings of an independent review which said the former directors of SingPost did not fully consider certain key risks before signing off on the postal service provider's largest acquisition - TradeGlobal, the loss-making United States e-commerce business that SingPost acquired for US$168.5 million (S$230 million) in October 2015.

 

"As we have stated, we will be handing the full report to the regulators for their review. They are the best people to follow through with it," he said.

SingPost shares finished 0.7 per cent or one cent lower at $1.34 on Friday.

Separately, ratings agency Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Singtel's senior unsecured ratings to A1 from Aa3. The ratings outlook remains stable, it said.

"The downgrade reflects continued weakening in Singtel's key financial parameters - Debt/Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) and RCF (retained cash flow)/debt - over the last two years, fueled by rising absolute debt levels and a willingness by the company to lever up its balance sheet to a level inconsistent with the Aa3 rating," said Moody's vice president and senior analyst Nidhi Dhruv.

A Singtel spokesman said in a statement that the credit ratings of Singtel and Optus continue to be strong among its peers in the telecommunications industry.

"Singtel and Optus remain financially-disciplined in our approach to investments and are committed to maintaining our investment-grade credit ratings," he added.

Singtel shares closed 0.8 per cent or three cents up at$3.91.