Debt restructuring talks ongoing: KS Energy bosses

Shares of drilling and rig management firm KS Energy tumbled for a second day after the Commercial Affairs Department probe was announced, by 0.4 cent or 6.25 per cent to six cents yesterday.
Shares of drilling and rig management firm KS Energy tumbled for a second day after the Commercial Affairs Department probe was announced, by 0.4 cent or 6.25 per cent to six cents yesterday.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Kris Wiluan and son reassure shareholders even as share price falls further following CAD probe

KS Energy bosses, Mr Kris Wiluan and his son Richard, have moved to reassure shareholders following a police probe last week.

"The company's debt restructuring talks are continuing and KS Energy will release further updates when finalised," executive chairman Kris Wiluan told The Straits Times on Monday.

But they declined to shed light on the nature of the police probe as investigations are ongoing.

"Richard and I are confident of the legal due process in Singapore and will continue to extend our full cooperation to the investigators," Mr Wiluan added.

KS Energy shares tumbled for a second day after the probe was announced, diving 0.4 cent or 6.25 per cent to six cents yesterday, as worried investors piled out of the counter pending more clarity.

The drilling and rig management firm said over the weekend that the two Wiluans had been interviewed by the Commercial Affairs Department in its investigations into a potential contravention of Section 197 of the Securities and Futures Act, which deals with false trading and market-rigging transaction.

The bad news hit as KS Energy's debt woes are coming to a head.

In response to queries from the Singapore Exchange last week, KS Energy said it was in talks with bondholders and a shareholder to roll over $74.9 million in debt, in order to avoid triggering cross default clauses on other borrowings of $343 million.

Auditors raised concerns over the group's ability to continue as a "going concern" as early as a year ago.

Last month, KS Energy sought leniency from lenders to push back the maturity on $45 million of convertible bonds originally due in March last year to this June, for the fifth time in 12 months.

Since last April, KS Energy has also been searching for buyers for its 55 per cent interest in KS Distribution, which distributes oil and gas-related equipment and parts to oil companies and contractors.

KS Energy was once run by Mr Tan Kim Seng and his brother Fuh Gih.

Mr Kris Wiluan, an Indonesian tycoon who has been in the oil and gas sector since the 1970s, bought a controlling stake in KS Energy from founder Tan Kim Seng in 2006.

Mr Tan Fuh Gih helmed ill-fated Swissco Holdings until it filed for judicial management under a debt mountain last November.

KS Energy's market cap has shrunk from its peak in 2007 to $31 million as at yesterday. Most research houses have long since axed coverage of KS Energy.

One analyst said stress in the offshore and marine sector remains, with others like shipbuilder Nam Cheong and offshore support vessel owner-operator Pacific Radiance also in urgent need of debt restructuring.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Debt restructuring talks ongoing: KS Energy bosses'. Print Edition | Subscribe