April 24, 2020 / 11:45 AM / a month ago

Singapore oil trader Hin Leong seeks court-appointed manager to oversee debts: sources

FILE PHOTO: A view of Hin Leong's Pu Tuo San VLCC supertanker in the waters off Jurong Island in Singapore, July 11, 2019. Picture taken July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd, one of Asia’s top oil traders, has applied for a court-appointed supervisor to manage the company and restructure billions of dollars of debt owed to multiple banks, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

“The company is in the process of applying for judicial management, and at the same time actively looking for strategic partners to raise cash,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the company’s plans.

Under so-called judicial management, a court appoints an independent manager to run the affairs of a financially distressed company in the place of existing management. Such moves are often seen favourably by creditors.

Hin Leong did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Calls to the Singapore High Court were not answered.

The company is also expected to withdraw an application it had made to the Singapore High Court for legal protection for six months from creditors, the two sources said.

Hin Leong owes $3.85 billion to 23 banks, according to a company presentation to lenders on April 14 contained in an affidavit in court filings. The affidavit was reviewed by Reuters but has not been made public.

In the affidavit, Hin Leong’s founder Lim Oon Kuin, also known as O.K. Lim, said he had directed the firm not to disclose $800 million in losses over several years. The financial difficulties have come to light following the collapse in oil prices and slump in demand as the coronavirus pandemic shut down economic activity.

Hin Leong had appointed accounting firm PwC and law firm Rajah & Tann as advisers for negotiations with lenders to obtain short-term credit, but talks fell through, two sources had said previously.

A spokeswoman for Rajah & Tan declined comment as the matter is before the court, while PwC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Anshuman Daga; editing by Richard Pullin and Neil Fullick

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