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Hyflux independent director resigns due to ‘unresolved differences’ over legal team change

SINGAPORE: In the latest twist to Hyflux’s high-profile debt restructuring, the company said its non-executive independent director Simon Tay has resigned voluntarily with effect on Friday (Feb 7) due to an “inability to fulfill his duties”.

This was announced by the company in a bourse filing on Friday night, which said there were “unresolved differences in opinion” between Mr Tay and the company’s board of directors over law firm WongPartnership’s recent decision to quit as Hyflux’s counsel.

The company also released a letter that its new legal team had issued in response to a Facebook post by Mr Tay earlier this month.

In that Facebook post, Mr Tay wrote that he remains a senior consultant at WongPartnership and at Hyflux, he will recuse himself and not take part in any discussion or decision relating to the law firm.

READ: Aqua Munda extends debt buyout deadline on back of ‘significant additional concerns’ about Hyflux


WongPartnership unexpectedly said on Jan 29 it had applied to the court to discharge itself from representing the water treatment firm. Hyflux responded later on the same day that “on its part, it has lost confidence and trust” in WongPartnership.

The water treatment firm announced the appointment of Clifford Chance and Cavenagh Law as its new legal advisers the next day.

On Feb 2, Mr Tay, who has served as Hyflux’s non-executive independent director since May 2011, said he was “saddened” but respects the law firm’s decision. 

“For myself, I remain a senior consultant at WongPartnership. In that role I do not manage the firm and, in particular, will leave any matter relating to Hyflux to my partners,” he wrote in a Facebook post that he said was in response to questions about his views on the latest development and whether he will be staying on at Hyflux.

He added in the same post: “At Hyflux, I will recuse myself and not take part in any discussion or decision relating to WongPartnership. I will continue to serve as an independent board member.”

Hyflux published a notification on Feb 7 noting that its lawyers from Clifford Chance and Cavenagh Law had sent a letter to Mr Tay as a response to his Facebook post.

The lawyers had requested Mr Tay publish the letter by way of a comment to his Facebook page, but Mr Tay did not.

The letter dated Feb 4 said that Mr Tay did not recuse himself nor object to the board’s announcement on Jan 29, which said that Hyflux has lost confidence and trust in WongPartnership. Neither did Mr Tay do the same for the resolution passed by the board on Jan 30, which contained an explanation for the company’s earlier announcement.

“We note that you did not mention this in your post,” the letter said. 

It also said that Mr Tay had been told to recuse himself from all matters involving WongPartnership before his Facebook post was written, and he had agreed on Jan 30 to do so.

“It would appear that despite having agreed to recuse yourself from any discussion relating to WongPartnership, you consider it appropriate as an independent director to discuss that very same matter publicly,” the letter added. 

With Mr Tay’s resignation from Hyflux, he also ceased to be a member of Hyflux’s risk management and investment committees, the bourse filing added.

As at Feb 7, Mr Tay held 500,000 of Hyflux’s 6 per cent perpetual securities and 350,000 share options in his own name, it said.

Source: CNA/sk


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