Hyflux must address concerns, be 'fully transparent' at upcoming meetings with investors: SIAS

Hyflux must address concerns, be 'fully transparent' at upcoming meetings with investors: SIAS

Hyflux Singapore (1)
(Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: With affected retail investors "anxiously waiting" for updates on the company’s restructuring plan, Hyflux will need to address their concerns and be "fully transparent" when it holds its town hall sessions on Friday (Jan 18).

This was a call from Mr David Gerald, president of Securities Investors Association (Singapore) (SIAS), who on Thursday urged the beleaguered water treatment firm to provide more clarity on how and when investors can recover their money.

Hyflux is set to meet the holders of its notes, perpetual securities and preference shares for the second time on Friday. The debt-laden company held its first round of meetings last July, and investors had then bemoaned the lack of updates.

Since then, Hyflux has received a S$530 million lifeline from two Indonesian investors.

While that showed the company trying its best to meet expectations of its creditors, Mr Gerald said in a statement published on SIAS’ website that more can be done.

Investors "rightfully expect that the company has done the necessary due diligence to ensure that the best deal is achieved for them".

“Ever since the announcement of the interest shown by Salim Group, the Hyflux retail investors are expecting to hear from the company (on Friday) to what extent they can recover their investments and on what terms and within what period."

Mr Gerald also called on Hyflux founder-CEO Olivia Lum to do more.

“Going by the recent other successful restructuring exercises, the affected investors have also seen the majority shareholder providing capital to some extent to demonstrate alignment of interest with the investors,” he wrote.

“Hyflux investors would like to hear from the Hyflux majority shareholder as to what sort of involvement there will be, if any, from her in this restructuring exercise and if not, why not?”

Last week, Mr Gerald also called on Ms Lum to step down as chairman and make way for an independent candidate who can “expand and strengthen Hyflux's current board in managing the complexities and intricacies of its mega restructuring".

"Such a move would bring comfort to all stakeholders," he wrote in a Jan 11 commentary published in The Business Times.

Seen as one of Singapore's most successful business stories, Hyflux’s unexpected downfall has left tens of thousands of investors reeling.

Of its S$2.95 billion of liabilities, S$265 million is owed to medium-term note holders and another S$900 million to investors of perpetual securities and preference shares. The latter is a big group of 34,000 people, many of whom are retail investors.

The company has previously said that it plans to engage its creditors before presenting a restructuring plan to vote by the end of its extended moratorium in April.

Source: CNA/sk(hm)