Hyflux reveals 2nd potential white knight

Hyflux Innovation Centre in Bendemeer Road.
Hyflux Innovation Centre in Bendemeer Road. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Oyster Bay Fund has given insolvent water treatment firm non-binding letter of intent

Another potential investor has deepened talks with Hyflux as the insolvent water treatment firm searches for fresh funds to stave off liquidation.

Oyster Bay Fund, a global multi-strategy investment fund, is mulling over an investment and has given Hyflux a non-binding letter of intent, the firm said yesterday.

As an indication of its good faith and intent, the fund is prepared to buy preference and ordinary shares in HyfluxShop Holdings from the company for up to $26 million, Hyflux said. If a definitive agreement is signed, this sum is expected to be used as working capital.

Hyflux said it envisions an investment of up to $500 million in the group, subject to regulatory clearance, due diligence and the execution of a definitive agreement.

HyfluxShop is the consumer water business in which Hyflux owns a 30 per cent stake. HyfluxShop used to be wholly owned by Hyflux until February last year.

In that month - well before Hyflux filed for bankruptcy protection in May last year - Hyflux distributed 70 per cent of the shares of HyfluxShop to Hyflux shareholders via a dividend in specie. This resulted in Ms Olivia Lum, Hyflux's controlling shareholder, owning 23.8 per cent of HyfluxShop.

She then made a general offer to buy up the remaining HyfluxShop shares from minority shareholders.

 
 
 

At the time, HyfluxShop was valued at $20 million, based on the price per share she offered to pay. Hyflux also agreed to buy $20 million HyfluxShop preference shares with a 6 per cent annual dividend.

Hyflux said yesterday: "The letter of intent (from Oyster Bay Fund) is stated to automatically terminate if a judicial manager or liquidator is appointed over the company."

The new development comes two weeks after Hyflux received a non-binding letter of intent from Emirati utilities group Utico.

Discussions with Utico are based on a possible injection of $400 million to be used for equity and working capital purposes and possible urgent interim funding.

Hyflux was asked during a hearing in the High Court on Tuesday to clarify its planned timeline to get a restructuring complete.

Lawyer Smitha Menon, who represents Hyflux, said she could not provide that yet: "The investor (Utico) is doing due diligence, it's a moving timeline. We are dealing with information requests as well as negotiating a possible structure."

Hyflux also said yesterday that it is continuing to engage with other parties that have expressed an interest to invest in the group.

Priority will be given to those willing and able to provide interim funding and reach a binding agreement with the company within the shortest possible time, it added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'Hyflux reveals 2nd potential white knight'. Print Edition | Subscribe