Singapore lawyer snags global award for restructuring in Asia

WongPartnership's Smitha Menon received the 2020 Woman of the Year In Restructuring (Asia) award by the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation. PHOTO: SIMTH MENON

SINGAPORE - A lawyer here last month became the first Singaporean to receive an award from a global body recognising contributions of woman lawyers in the region's restructuring field. The award is a reflection of Singapore's position as a restructuring and insolvency hub.

WongPartnership's Smitha Menon, 39, received the 2020 Woman of the Year In Restructuring (Asia) award by the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

The IWIRC is a global group of more than 1,500 accountants, lawyers and others in the insolvency and restructuring industry.

The annual award is meant to recognise a female restructuring practitioner from Asia who has inspired and skilfully led a restructuring team and made extraordinary contributions to the profession, among other things.

WongPartnership said Ms Menon is one of the leaders in the firm's restructuring and insolvency and special situations advisory practices.

"At under 40 years of age, Smitha has advised on some of the most high-profile and complex restructuring matters involving prominent organisations such as the Noble Group, Emas Chiyoda, Hyflux, Wirecard Asia Holdings and the Xihe Holdings group," said the firm.

Ms Menon also acted for HSBC in a case this year which involved the Design Studio Group, an interior design and construction business operating here and abroad.

It is seen as a landmark case in Singapore as it is the first here to sanction the conversion, or roll-up, of a portion of a pre-existing debt into a rescue financing debt.

She said: "Before this, only the United States courts allowed it. It showcases the rescue financing provisions in our restructuring laws. As there is substantial risk in lending to an insolvent company, the rescue financing provisions empower the court to grant super-priority status to rescue financing loans. HSBC provided the US$62.08 million rescue financing package."

She added: "Singapore may be small but we are punching above our weight internationally when it comes to restructuring expertise."

The award testifies to the Republic's development as an international centre for debt restructuring, she said.

It includes a US$1,000 (S$1,340) donation to a charity chosen by the winner. Ms Menon chose Daughters of Tomorrow, a charity here seeking to facilitate livelihood opportunities for women from low-income families, support them in achieving financial independence and enable social mobility for their families.

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