Two Oceans Film Company gets winding-up nod

High Court says objecting creditors failed to prove that application was made in bad faith

One of Singapore's oldest film production houses has been given the go-ahead to wind up after the High Court overruled objections of 32 creditors who are owed $609,000.

Mr Koh Say Chong, part-owner of Two Oceans Film Company, was supported by three creditors who were owed a further $1.2 million when he applied to wind up the business.

He said the decision " was not taken lightly, nor was it done without regard for the other creditors".

Lawyer Samuel Seow (standing) talking in June to freelancers who were trying to get their allegedly unpaid fees from Two Oceans.
Lawyer Samuel Seow (standing) talking in June to freelancers who were trying to get their allegedly unpaid fees from Two Oceans. ST FILE PHOTO

Justice Choo Han Teck, in judgment grounds released on Monday, said the opposing creditors had not substantiated their allegations that the application was made in "bad faith".

They had claimed Mr Koh "orchestrated" the move because he was the company's creditor, director and shareholder.

"Even if there is merit in the opposing creditors' bare assertions... the liquidator appointed upon a winding-up order will be obliged to look into the proof of debts and make the appropriate assessment of the amounts the company is liable for," wrote Justice Choo.

He added that the objecting creditors had not provided any viable alternatives to the winding up.

Mr Koh, represented by lawyer Johnny Cheo, claimed he had not drawn his full remuneration of about $70,000 from the company since late last year to help it through financial difficulties.

Thirty of the opposing creditors were represented by lawyers Ron Soh and Aditya Naidu from Samuel Seow Law while Ms Annsley Wong from Clifford Law and Mr Nicholas Tay from Farallon Law acted for two others. They had urged the court to reject or stay the winding- up application on various grounds.

Two Oceans Film Company, which started in 1998 and deals in advertising and video production, is owned by Mr Koh and his wife Geraldine Ng. The couple are the two directors of the company, and also the sole directors and shareholders of another company, Salt Film, which is owed $1.194 million by Two Oceans.

Two Oceans owes $2.08 million in total based on creditors' claims. It counts big companies such as Marigold and McDonald's among its clients. In 1999, it won the top prize in the annual Asian Advertising Awards in Hong Kong.

"We have been in this business for more than two decades," Mr Koh told The Straits Times. "In this time, the company has contributed a great deal to the industry. We were the ones who first challenged and debunked the long-held notion that home-grown television commercial film directors could never be on a par with those from overseas .

"We produced work that was recognised by the industry in the Asia-Pacific region. Most of the established commercial film directors today were supported and developed by us and came through our ranks.

"So too did many producers and production house owners who are now our competitors, as did quite a few of the creditors who grew their businesses over the past two decades on the back of the business we created."

He added there was much "sadness and reluctance" in having to face the reality of a business that had ceased to be viable.

"We have put in all the personal resources available to us, including sums borrowed from family and friends, in order to allow the company every possible chance to survive and fought desperately against this outcome until it was clearly no longer tenable to continue.

"Now that the judgment has been given to wind up the company, we hope to have an opportunity to start again, rebuild a livelihood and aim over time to discharge our commitments."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'Two Oceans Film Company gets winding-up nod'. Print Edition | Subscribe