The Singaporean firm acted for creditors with high-value claims against the vessel-owning Xihe Group and assisted Noble with its second restructuring in recent years
|Global heads of restructuring and insolvency||Chong Yee Leong|
|Partners in restructuring team||16|
|Restructuring lawyers in Who’s Who Legal||2|
History of the practice
Established well over a century ago, Allen & Gledhill prides itself on being one of Singapore’s oldest firms. The insolvency division, integrated within 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 Association of Southeast Asian Nations region.
The practice is currently headed by Chong Yee Leong, who took over from Edwin Tong SC when he joined Singapore’s government as Senior Minister of State for Law in 2018. Andrew Yeo is also co-head of the wider litigation and dispute resolution department, and other prominent partners include Andrew Chan, and Edward Tiong, who is deputy head of the practice.
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.
Singapore serves as the main base for all of Allen & Gledhill’s full-time restructuring and insolvency lawyers. It also has regional offices in Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as an association with Malaysian firm Rahmat Lim & Partners, which launched in 2010 and whose litigation department tackles Malaysian restructuring matters. In Indonesia, the firm works in association with Soemadipradja & Taher.
Who uses it?
Allen & Gledhill’s books show a spread across several industries, with a fairly even split between creditor and debtor-side work. It works closely with Singaporean financial institutions such as Standard Chartered Bank and United Overseas Bank.
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 was also the first port of call for liquidators of Singaporean shipping companies Parakou and Glory Wealth.
Historic track record
Alongside the significant Berau and Ezra restructurings, the firm acted on the cross-border collapse of Eastman Kodak Company and was 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, Allen & Gledhill secured a victory for the receivers and managers of petrochemical plant operator Jurong Aromatics in the restructuring of US$2.5 billion worth of debt. In 2017, 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 that the company had incurred pre-receivership. The court also made clear that the appointment of receivers did not constitute a ceding of control by senior lenders.
The firm won a ruling that cheered third-party funders in Singapore on behalf of bankrupt businessman Fan Kow Hin’s estate, which sought sanction of a litigation funding arrangement. The court allowed the arrangement in a 2018 decision, rejecting arguments that Singapore’s recent legalisation of the practice for international arbitration had impliedly barred it for other areas.
It also acted for Noble Group, a Bermuda-incorporated commodities trader formerly listed in Singapore, on its US$3.5 billion restructuring in 2018. Allen & Gledhill defended the company against shareholder actions and claims relating to forum mandatory laws, which threatened to derail the restructuring. The company carried out parallel schemes in England and Bermuda, alongside a Chapter 15 filing, before completing its restructuring through a Bermudian provisional liquidation.
In another cross-border case playing out in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and India, the firm represented a series of lenders and Islamic trust certificate holders in the restructuring of oil and gas group Swiber Holdings, which included the first known sukuk default in Singapore.
More recently, Allen & Gledhill advised London-based satellite company OneWebb Global on the Singapore law aspects of its US Chapter 11 restructuring. The company and 18 affiliates sought bankruptcy protection in New York in March 2018, listing debts of approximately US$2.1 billion. Allen & Gledhill partner Kenneth Lim advised the company on its debtor-in-possession financing and other Singapore law insolvency issues that arose in connection with the Chapter 11. The New York court approved OneWebb’s restructuring plan in October 2020, leading to the sale of the business to an international consortium that includes the UK government.
Top cases of the research period
Chong is leading the firm’s restructuring team in ongoing instructions advising multiple bank and non-bank creditors with high-value claims against entities linked to vessel-owning conglomerate Xihe Group. Xihe was placed into judicial management proceedings in the Lion City after founder Lim Oon Kuin admitted that the group had hidden millions of dollars in losses over several years. Allen & Gledhill helped secure a winding-up order against Hin Leong Trading, the oil trading arm of Xihe, in March 2021 and has represented two bank creditors and a non-bank creditor in suits against key personnel in Xihe for losses linked to the group’s insolvency.
Partner Alexander Yeo is acting on behalf of two syndicated banks in the restructuring of offshore drilling accommodation operator Prosafe SE and affiliated entities. In a Singaporean scheme of arrangement sanctioned by the High Court in October 2021, the group proposed a US$1.1 billion equity swap with creditors that would give them a 99% stake in parent Prosafe SE. A parallel Norwegian reconstruction process was sanctioned the month after and Prosafe’s Singaporean plan was subsequently recognised in Brazil – the first-ever ruling under Brazil’s implementation of the UNCITRAL Model Law – with the group announcing the successful completion of its reorganisation in December.
Partner Jo Tay and a multi-disciplinary team again acted as Singapore counsel to Noble Group in the trading firm’s second restructuring in three years. Noble moved its commodities trading business into a British Virgin Islands-incorporated parent company and negotiated with noteholders to cancel two sets of notes, which were due in 2023 and 2025. The 2023 noteholders were issued new debt under a US$350 million instrument from the new parent, while 2025 noteholders were given a 4.8% equity stake in the company.
Allen & Gledhill landed a new instruction from investment bank Credit Suisse in connection with enforcement proceedings related to debts of more than US$1.2 billion owed by British businessman Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance. Credit Suisse was one of the ultimate purchasers of a string of notes issued by GFG through supply-chain lender Greensill Capital. Greensill Capital entered insolvency in March 2021 after its insurance expired and insurers were no longer willing to take the risk. GFG entities subsequently defaulted on several facilities advanced by the lender, leaving Greensill unable to repay a US$140 million loan to Credit Suisse.
Finally, Leong, Tiong and partner Fay Fong acted for a steering committee of lenders in the US$3.74 billion cross-border restructuring of South East Asia’s largest shipping liner, Pacific International Lines. The company secured a unique scheme of arrangement in March 2021 and repaid all the scheme creditors by the end of December that year, in one of the largest and quickest cross-border restructurings undertaken since Singapore’s new regime was implemented in 2017. The pre-packaged scheme was the first to offer creditors a choice of securities in Singapore.
An Allen & Gledhill client who did not want to be named said that the firm offered “sound” legal, strategic and commercial advice as well as being “trustworthy and reliable”. They praised Leong and Tiong as particularly impressive advisers.
Allen & Gledhill – Restructuring & Insolvency Practice
Allen & Gledhill is an award-winning full-service law firm which provides legal services to a wide range of premier clients, including local and multinational corporations and financial institutions.
Established in 1902, our Firm is consistently ranked as one of the market leaders in Singapore and South-east Asia, having been involved in a number of challenging, complex and significant deals, many of which are the first of its kind.
Our reputation for high-quality advice is regularly affirmed by the strong rankings in leading publications, and by the various awards and accolades received from independent commentators and clients. Our Firm is consistently ranked band one in the highest number of practice areas, and has the highest number of lawyers recognised as leading individuals. Over the years, we have also been named ‘Regional Law Firm of the Year’ and ‘SE Asia Law Firm of the Year’ by many prominent legal publishers.
With a growing network of associate firms and offices, Allen & Gledhill is well-placed to advise clients on their business interests in Singapore and beyond, in particular, on matters involving South-east Asia and the Asian region. With our offices in Singapore, Myanmar and Vietnam, associate firm in Malaysia (Rahmat Lim & Partners), and working in association with Soemadipradja & Taher in Indonesia, the Allen & Gledhill network has over 650 lawyers in the region, making us one of the largest law firms in South-east Asia.
Our Restructuring & Insolvency Practice
We are a top tier restructuring and insolvency practice. We assist clients on complex domestic and cross-border restructuring and insolvency matters, including banking and financial markets, corporate and commercial, hospitality, manufacturing, maritime and aviation, real estate, structured finance and tax and fraud.
Our unique offering is that our practice comprises lawyers from our disputes, mergers and acquisitions, banking and corporate and other practices. Our work seamlessly integrates the specialist expertise of other top tier practices of our Firm, including structured finance, banking, financial markets, real estate, tax, fraud investigations, shipping, and construction.
The depth and breadth of our capabilities and our ability to draw on cross-discipline know-how enables us to anticipate issues, think laterally and provide quick and coordinated responses arising from any insolvency issues. Our clients are therefore assured of seamless access to premium legal services in all practice areas which are relevant to a successful work out or restructuring.
Our extensive experience and fully-integrated structure enable us to be at the forefront of landmark complex restructurings in Singapore and the region such as those relating to Hin Leong group of companies, Hyflux, Pacific International Lines, Brightoil Group, Berau Group, China Fishery Group, Ezra Holdings, Falcon Energy Group, Jurong Aromatics Corporation, Marco Polo Group, Otto Marine, Parakou Shipping, PT Berlian Laju Tanker, Borders Group, Sembawang Engineers and Contractors Pte Ltd.
Chong Yee Leong
Head of Restructuring & Insolvency Practice
Tel: +65 6890 7450
E: [email protected]
Deputy Head of Restructuring & Insolvency Practice
Tel: +65 6890 7887
E: [email protected]
Awards and Industry Recognition:
- Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards 2022: Singapore Corporate & Finance Domestic Law Advisers
- Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022: Highest number of Band 1 rankings (17 practices); largest number of Leading Lawyers among Singapore law firms (59 lawyers)
- FinanceAsia Country Awards 2022: Best Law Firm in Singapore
- IFLR Asia-Pacific Awards 2022: Regional Law Firm of the Year; Most Innovative National Firm of the Year (Singapore)
- IFLR1000 2022: Highest number of Tier 1 rankings (7 practices)
- The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022: Highest number of Tier 1 rankings (18 practices); largest number of recognised lawyers among Singapore law firms (40 lawyers)
Restructuring & Insolvency
- Asian Legal Business SE Asia Law Awards 2022: Restructuring & Insolvency Firm of the Year
- Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2022: Tier 1
- Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022: Band 1
- IFLR1000 2022: Tier 1
- The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022: Tier 1