Clock ticking for KPMG to find capital for Swiber

Judicial manager to tap oil, gas expertise in its own network to find investors for ailing firm

Pressure is mounting on interim judicial manager KPMG to find new investors to provide critical working capital for troubled oil services firm Swiber Holdings.

KPMG declined to comment yesterday when asked if new investors had emerged, but it said in a statement: "As interim judicial managers, we will tap the oil and gas sector expertise in the KPMG global network. We are hopeful that these additional capabilities will give the company the best shot at a turnaround."

Mr Bob Yap, head of advisory at KPMG, added: "Safeguarding the interests of stakeholders, including creditors and shareholders of Swiber, is one of our top priorities.


"We are also heartened that its largest creditor is supportive of the application and we look forward to more creditors supporting and working with us."

KPMG is expected to file an interim report by Aug 19, sources said.

Getting new working capital to resolve the liquidity crunch that forced Swiber to its knees is key to its turnaround, said the firm's chairman, Mr Raymond Kim Goh, in court documents filed on Tuesday.

Swiber itself has no business other than cash and inter-company receivables, so it needs its operational arm - Swiber Offshore Construction (SOC) - to be revived as that is the revenue generator.

Troubled oil services provider Swiber Holdings had faced a liquidity crunch that made it difficult to stay afloat. More debts are looming as coupon payments are due on various notes, including $3.5 million due on Sept 18.  PHOTO: SWIBER HOLDINGS

"Should SOC become no longer operational, little if any cash would flow from SOC and other subsidiaries to Swiber," Mr Goh said.

  • US$7.7m
    Swiber Holdings' cash position as of July 27.

    Total amount due under the multi-currency medium-term note and Islamic Trust notes as of July 27.

    Debts owing to trade suppliers and subcontractors as of May 31.

The total outstanding amount under the multi-currency medium-term note and multi-currency Islamic Trust certificate issuance programme was about US$437.3 million (S$586.8 million) as of July 27. Debts owing to trade suppliers and subcontractors as of May 31 were about US$264 million, court papers showed.

Mr Goh said the willingness of DBS, the single-largest creditor to both Swiber and SOC, to support the judicial management bid "creates a reasonable probability of (the firm) being rehabilitated".

Swiber group chief executive Yeo Chee Neng said in court documents that it was never the board or management's plan to wind up SOC, even when Swiber was placed under provisional liquidation, because the unit was the main operational entity for all of its projects.

He added: "The intention was always to consider restructuring options... There are no ulterior motives or collateral purposes and it is not a ruse to buy time or delay any process for stakeholders."

Court documents show that its cash position was only US$7.7 million at the time of the liquidation filing last Thursday. It effectively had no working capital because the main receivables of SOC have all been assigned to DBS and therefore no cash was expected to flow from SOC to Swiber.

The failure of a preferential share placement to London-based private equity firm AMTC has compounded matters.

The firm was to have bought US$200 million preference shares in Swiber unit, Swiber Investment - a move that would have provided vital liquidity for the company to stay afloat. Swiber said on July 11 that it had failed to get the AMTC equity injection.

More debts are looming as coupon payments are due on various notes, including 17.44 million yuan (S$3.5 million) due on Sept 18, $5.7 million due on Oct 18 and $100 million due on Oct 10.

DBS made two loans to Swiber totalling US$146 million weeks before the company filed for liquidation. A US$85 million loan from DBS due on June 30 remains unpaid, while a US$61 million loan is due on Dec 31.

Various demands have also been sent: from Triton Marine for US$200,000; Chuan Hup Agencies for US$5.4 million; and Samara Marine for US$248,500.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Clock ticking for KPMG to find capital for Swiber'. Print Edition | Subscribe