Singapore court grants oil trader GP Global APAC debt moratorium

The moratorium will keep GP APAC's creditors from independently pursuing legal actions and allow it to resume restructuring efforts.
The moratorium will keep GP APAC's creditors from independently pursuing legal actions and allow it to resume restructuring efforts.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - The Singapore High Court has granted oil trader GP Global APAC a six-month debt moratorium, the company's lawyers said on Thursday (March 4), paving the way for its parent company to restructure more than US$1 billion (S$1.33 billion) in debt.

GP APAC is the Singapore unit of GP Global, a global oil trader and ship fuel supplier based in the United Arab Emirates that is in default amid allegations that employers carried out fraudulent trades.

The moratorium will keep GP APAC's creditors from independently pursuing legal actions and allow it to resume restructuring efforts, including selling off GP Global's oil refining and storage assets.

The Singapore unit owes more than US$464 million to its top 20 unsecured creditors, while its parent had total liabilities of more than US$1.2 billion.

GP APAC applied in early February for the moratorium after Singapore-based marine fuel supplier Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services obtained a court ruling allowing it to seize GP's Singapore office to recoup more than US$700,000 in claims.

In a hearing on Tuesday, the High Court also granted an order that would prevent the seizure, lawyers Daniel Tan and Moses Lin, GP APAC's legal advisers and partners at law firm Shook Lin & Bok, told Reuters.

"This is all GP APAC wanted, a restructuring where everyone is treated equally and there is no 'queue jumping'," said Mr Lin.

GP APAC had planned to sell the office to raise $8.5 million as part of its restructuring plan.

We "can proceed to complete the sale of the property to the awaiting buyer", said Mr Tan.

Under the court order, about $1 million from the sale of the property would be paid to the court for distribution to creditors when the company's restructuring scheme is approved, the lawyers said.

"If the scheme is not approved and the moratorium is lifted, then this money may be paid out to Equatorial in accordance with the judgment they have obtained," said Mr Lin.

GP APAC director Roderick Sutton and Equatorial did not respond to requests for comment.