Hyflux says Utico rescue deal has 'ceased'; studying new offer and other options, including Aqua Munda

But Hyflux said it continues to be in discussions with Utico. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Beleaguered water-treatment firm Hyflux said its $400 million rescue deal with potential investor Utico has "ceased" with the lapsing of the restructuring agreement's long-stop date on May 26.

But Hyflux said it continues to be in discussions with Utico, following the potential white knight's decision to revoke the cash component of its rescue deal.

In a bourse filing on Friday (May 29), Hyflux said that it is "considering the contents" of Utico's May 26 letter, in which the Middle Eastern utility provider said that all cash considerations it had earlier offered will be substituted for stock in Utico and Hyflux.

This means that holders of Hyflux's perpetual securities and preference shares (PnPs) will receive shares comprising 5 per cent of Utico and 12.5 per cent of Hyflux as payment, with no cash component. Previously, these investors would be able to opt for an upfront cash payment of up to $1,500 or payment in installments.

Meanwhile, senior unsecured creditors will have to accept 17 per cent of Utico and 12.5 per cent of Hyflux as payment.

The Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS) on Thursday described Utico's new offer , valid only until June 4, as "considerably less favourable" and a "bombshell" for already-aggrieved retail investors.

Hyflux also said on Friday it is concurrently pursuing other options, including those with regard to other potential white knights, namely Aqua Munda, Longview and FCC Aqualia.

Singapore-based Longview International Holdings had expressed interest in investing in Hyflux together with a joint venture partner from China three months ago, while Spain-based water management company FCC Aqualia sent a letter of interest to Hyflux in March.

The circumstances surrounding Aqua Munda have attracted controversy, as it has not made any offer to PnP holders. But if Aqua Munda buys out all of the senior debt, Hyflux can exit the restructuring process.

As The Business Times previously reported, Aqua Munda is widely speculated to be a stalking horse for someone. This perception has been fanned by how Hyflux has not addressed questions about whether its board and advisers have an interest in Aqua Munda.

Hyflux's next case-management conference is at 10am on June 11.

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