UAE-based utility operator Utico FZC said Thursday it increased its bid for Singapore water utility to S$485 million ($384.48 million) in a cash and stock deal, up from a previous offer of around S$400 million.
Representatives of Hyflux didn’t immediately respond to DealStreetAsia’s request for comment.
The fresh proposal increased the payouts to Hyflux’s unsecured senior creditors and to the holders of its preference shares and perpetual securities, known as the P&P creditors, Utico said.
“This was a well-thought effort by our team and strategy experts, and focussed on building the value of Utico and Hyflux together with our strong position in the markets and technology innovations,” Utico said in the statement. “Shareholders of Utico are keen to conclude this deal at the earliest.”
The offer was also extended through the end of this month, with closing expected by the end of August, Utico said in a statement.
The increased offer from Utico followed Hyflux receiving an offer in late June from Johnny Widjaja, an Indonesian magnate, who expressed interest in investing as much as S$300 million ($215 million) in Hyflux as quickly as possible.
In a letter to Hyflux, Widjaja also said he would make S$100 million of working capital available to the company once he becomes the substantial shareholder, according to the SGX filing.
The fresh developments mark the latest twist in Hyflux’s long restructuring saga.
Hyflux’s already turbulent straits worsened in late May when the company announced Utico’s S$400 million ($282.94 million) rescue deal had lapsed.
Hyflux said at the time that it remained in talks with Utico, the largest private full-service utility and developer in the Middle East.
In late May, Utico sent Hyflux a letter saying it wanted to proceed with the terms of the restructuring agreement with some changes and had set June 4 as the deadline to accept. The deadline was later extended to June 30.
Utico’s letter said it wanted to change all-cash considerations into Hyflux and Utico equity, as well as changes to payments to creditors and advisors.
In lieu of the changes, Utico offered to invest in Hyflux SPV in Oman and Algeria to rejuvenate the assets, with “time being of the essence,” the letter said.
In a memo dated 4 June, which Hyflux filed to SGX, the water company said its medium-term noteholders planned to reject the revised offer because they wanted cash and not equity. The Securities Investors Association (SIAS) also continued to have concerns about the offer, Hyflux said.
Other stakeholders had not responded by the June 3 deadline, Hyflux said at the time.
In addition to continuing talks with Utico over the letter’s contents, Hyflux said in a previous announcement that it was also pursuing other options, including with Aqua Munda, Longview International and FCC Aqualia.
In March, Hyflux said FCC Aqualia, a Spain-based water-management company, sent a letter of interest for a potential transaction involving the company or its assets but did not provide further details.
Singapore-based holding company Longview, along with its unnamed Chinese joint venture partner, had expressed interest in investing in Hyflux in February.
Earlier this month, Aqua Munda, a Singapore-registered company that has offered to buy some of Hyflux’s noteholders and unsecured creditors’ debt, also sent a letter to the water company’s board saying it was “ready to provide no less than S$10 million of cash funding.” The funding would be a loan or on other terms to be mutually agreed, the letter, which was filed to SGX, said.
The expiration of the deal with Utico was another pothole in Hyflux’s long, rocky road towards finding a white knight investor.
The deeply indebted water player had filed for court protection from creditors in May 2018, after an oversupply of gas in Singapore resulted in depressed electricity prices, leading to losses for the company.
Hyflux’s unsecured debt load stands at nearly S$3 billion. Its rescue had seemed imminent after Hyflux reached deal with SM Investments, a consortium of the Salim Group and the Medco Group, in October 2018.
But in April 2019, Hyflux terminated the deal, saying it had “no confidence” SM Investments would complete the investment after it failed to provide a written commitment.
Late last year, Hyflux said it reached a deal with United Arab Emirates-based utility Utico FZC to provide the Singapore company with an investment of S$300 million and a S$100 million loan in exchange for an 88 per cent stake.
However, the scheme meetings – where Hyflux’s creditors vote on the proposed scheme of arrangement as contemplated under the Utico Restructuring Agreement – originally scheduled on 22 and 23 April 2020 had to be vacated due to regulations imposed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.