Singapore’s Hyflux Woes Spark Protests, Call for Nationalization

(Bloomberg) -- Emotions are running high among some Hyflux Ltd. retail investors who stand to lose almost everything in the collapse of Singapore’s once much vaunted water-treatment company.

The frustration has prompted some of them to organize a protest on March 30 over a steep haircut imposed by the company under its S$2.8 billion ($2.1 billion) debt restructuring plan. The Business Times published a letter from a reader calling on Singapore to nationalize the plant, saying Hyflux may be worth as much as a commodity trader that got government support in 2014.

Debt holder Alex Leong has obtained a permit to organize the protest at a downtown park known as the Speaker’s Corner, the Straits Times reported on its website. The newspaper cited Leong’s concerns that he could lose a large proportion of his savings if the restructuring goes through.

Retail investors in Hyflux’s S$900 million of unsecured junior securities stand to lose about 90 percent of their money under a rescue proposal by a consortium of Indonesian businessmen to be voted on April 5. The group, however, may walk away if operational and financial lapses at the Tuaspring water plant aren’t resolved by April 1.

While Hyflux respects the choice of investors to protest, the company urges them to reconsider the merits of the current proposal, it said in an email request for comment on the media reports. It reiterated that the proposal represents the most viable option, as opposed to zero recovery in a liquidation scenario.

“There is no alternative offer on the table now,” the company said, adding that it plans to update investors on the restructuring process. It couldn’t say when the announcement will be made.

Embattled Singapore Firm Hyflux Stung by Loss on Water Plant

The letter in the Business Times suggests government policy on the energy market sparked a slump in electricity prices and could not have been anticipated by Hyflux managers. If given time to restructure, Hyflux could be worth no less than Olam International Ltd., the trader that received billions in support from state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte in 2014, it added.

Meanwhile, an exchange filing late Monday brought more Hyflux related news. Algerian Energy Co. has sought arbitration proceedings against the company and its partners Tlemcen Desalination Investment Company SAS and Malakoff Bhd. in disputes over a 2007 venture.

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