Global Restructuring Review - Cross-border restructuring and insolvency legal news, features and events

GRR 100 2019

Allen & Gledhill

15 May 2019

A firm at the forefront of Singapore’s emergence as a centre for restructuring has supplied its newest senior minister of state for law

History of the practice

Established well over a century ago, Allen & Gledhill prides itself on being one of Singapore's oldest firms. Its 12-member insolvency division, fused with the firm's international arbitration and litigation practices, is a key player on the city-state's restructuring scene, with decades of experience in cross-border cases spanning the ASEAN region.

The practice is now co-headed by Andrew Yeo and Chong Yee Leong, who took over after the firm’s previous head, Edwin Tong SC, joined Singapore’s government as Senior Minister of State for Law in 2018. Other prominent partners are Andrew Chan and Edward Tiong.

Allen & Gledhill partners are also long-standing and active members of various insolvency institutions, including the Insolvency Practitioners Association of Singapore, the Law Society’s insolvency committee and the Turnaround Management Association of Singapore.

Network

Allen & Gledhill's restructuring partners practise from the firm's office in Singapore.

The firm has an association with Malaysian firm Rahmat Lim & Partners, which launched in 2010 and whose litigation department tackles Malaysian restructuring matters.

Who uses it?

The firm's books show a spread across several industries, with a fairly even split between creditor and debtor-side work. Clients in the energy sector include Singapore's Berau Coal Energy and its subsidiary, Berau Capital Resources, as well as offshore oil and gas company Ezra Holdings.

The firm has also risen to the challenge of managing pressures in the shipping industry, guiding the liquidators to Singaporean shipping companies Parakou and Glory Wealth, and the financiers to Indonesia's Berlian Laju, through various stages of insolvency proceedings and several instances of knock-on litigation.

Historic track record

Alongside Berau and Ezra, some of the firm's most significant cases include acting on the cross-border collapse of Eastman Kodak Company, and as counsel to the financial adviser of Singaporean asset manager TT International. In the aftermath of Barings Bank’s collapse in the 1990s Chong acted for the judicial managers, inspectors and liquidators of Singaporean entity Barings Futures. More recently Chan acted on the first known sukuk default in Singapore during the judicial management of Swiber Holdings.

Recent events

Allen & Gledhill won a victory for the receivers and managers of Jurong Aromatics, whom it has represented since September 2015 in the restructuring of US$2.5 billion worth of debt. The Singapore High Court ruled that creditors Glencore and BP could not withhold US$56 million in payments as an insolvency set-off for debts the company had incurred pre-receivership. The court also made clear that the appointment of receivers did not constitute ceding of control by senior lenders.

The firm won a ruling that cheered litigation funders in Singapore, in its representation of bankrupt businessman Fan Kow Hin’s estate, which sought sanction for a litigation funding arrangement. The court allowed the arrangement, rejecting arguments that Singapore’s recent legalisation of the practice for international arbitration had impliedly barred it for other areas.

New instructions include the controversial restructuring of water treatment company Hyflux, where the firm is representing the syndicated bank lenders and also a potential investor in a critical asset sale, and Singapore’s UOB bank in the restructuring of engineering group Ryobi Kiso. It represented Finnish bank Nordea in the restructuring of Norwegian gas carrier IM Skaugen as it sought a moratorium in Singapore.

It is representing Singapore bank DBS in its attempts to enforce a security against Vietnam-based assets of Triyards Group, part of the Ezra Group that is subject to Chapter 11 proceedings in the United States.

The firm is advising a number of statutory boards and an Indonesian creditor over the liquidations of SEC and PLPL, two subsidiaries of Indian construction company Punj Lloyd.

It continues its involvement with the US$950 million Berau Group restructuring, in which it acts for noteholders objecting to a proposed scheme of arrangement..  

It is also acting for the liquidator of shipping company Parakou: having last year obtained a ruling that the company’s directors breached their fiduciary duties, it is now applying for an order that the directors provide documents to allow the liquidator to make an informed decision on its choice of remedies.

The firm represented the Bank of Baroda and Standard Chartered in proceedings relating to the insolvency of Singaporean food distributor Pars Ram, winning a dispute with another bank creditor, DBS, in March 2018 over how to distribute a commingled pepper stock that had been pledged to each bank as security. The firm successfully convinced the Singaporean court to support a rolling charge method over DBS' favoured pari passu process.