Golf: Laguna National debenture holders appoint committee to recover money owed by club

The move comes after Laguna National's owner Peter Kwee (left) was unable to settle payments owed to hundreds of the golf club's debenture holders in July. PHOTOS: ST FILE, LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - At a virtual extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Thursday (Oct 7), Laguna National debenture holders voted to appoint a committee, guided by law firm WongPartnership, and to contribute funds for potential legal action against the golf and country club's owner Peter Kwee.

This comes after Kwee, 74, was unable to settle payments owed to hundreds of Laguna National's debenture holders in July, slightly less than a month after the 30-year-old notes were due for redemption.

The 36-hole course was incorporated in 1991 and its pioneer batch of 971 members took up a $120,000 unsecured note on top of paying membership fees, which ranged from $40,000 (restricted individual) to $180,000 (open corporate).

Thursday's EGM, which was convened by British and Malayan Trustees and saw about 250 outstanding noteholders in attendance, was the first meeting among the group.

Each is expected to contribute $5,000 which committee chairman Lim How Teck estimated would give them between $1 million and $1.5 million for "a war chest in anticipation of potential further action".

Lim, who is the chairman of Temasek unit Heliconia, said: "The committee is deeply grateful for the resounding support shown by our fellow noteholders today.

"We intend to do everything appropriate and necessary to recover what is rightfully ours."

The debentures went towards the construction of the club, and members were told by the then owners - a consortium including Natsteel and DBS Land subsidiary Resorts International - that the note would be redeemed in full in 30 years' time, on June 11, 2021.

Kwee's Group Exklusiv bought the club in 2001.

Over the years, there have been various other offers from Laguna to exchange these unsecured notes for new memberships.

The latest came in April. Debenture holders could trade in their in their notes, in addition to a top-up fee of at least $10,700, to extend their membership - which expired this year - to 2040.

Kwee, who was present at the meeting, told The Straits Times: "I was just there as a spectator, I didn't comment on anything.

"If they want to do something it's too early because nothing is decided. I'm waiting for the official outcome (from the British and Malayan Trustees), then I will respond."

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