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Ezra Holdings files for US bankruptcy protection

Ezra Holdings files for US bankruptcy protection

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Singapore’s Ezra Holdings has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York US Bankruptcy Court.

Filing under Ezra Holdings Limited, the Singapore company lists its primary place of business in New York State and includes subsidiary companies Emas Marine Services Pte Ltd and Emas IT Solutions Pte Ltd in the filing. Ezra Holdings Limited is described as an investment holding company for the Ezra Group.

Robin Chiu has been appointed chief restructuring officer and said in a declaration of support for the filing that the difficult operating environment in the oil and gas industry has had a direct adverse impact on each of the group’s business divisions.

Chiu said: “Besides Ezra’s status as a company listed on the SGX-ST, as a holding company, its primary assets are its investments in its respective business divisions and it is dependent on the returns from such investments and management fees for support services to each of its business divisions to meet its own financial obligations. Accordingly, Ezra’s financial position has suffered as its business divisions were adversely impacted by the extremely challenging operating environment.”

Ezra recorded revenues of $525 million but still suffered a net loss of around $850 million in the financial year ended August 31, 2016.

“The prolonged deterioration of the financial performance of Ezra’s business divisions and the inability to carry out fundraising in the oil and gas industry resulted in Ezra facing a cash crunch and an inability to pay their debts as they come due,” Chiu said.

The largest unsecured creditors listed in the filing are Singapore financial institutions DBS Bank at $272m, OCBC Bank at $184.5m and HSBC Institutional Trust Services at $108.5m.

“Our exposures to Ezra Holdings were moved to non performing in the third quarter, and suitable provisions have been made,” a spokesperson from DBS told Splash.

Court documents also reveal that Ezra was faced with pending or threatened action of proceedings from a long list of companies which include VT Halter Marine, Aker Solutions DNB Bank, Svenska Handelsbanken, Forland Subsea, Standard Chartered Bank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Citibank.

As of the end of its 2016 financial year, Ezra had long-term assets valued at around $515 million, and current assets valued at approximately $220 million.

The first major sign of cracks in the Ezra Group started to appear in December 2016 when subsea joint venture Emas Chiyoda Subsea defaulted on a bareboat charter contract with Norway’s Forland Subsea. By the end of February, Emas Chiyoda Subsea had filed for chapter 11 in the US Bankruptcy Court in Texas.

In an email to staff seen by Splash, Ezra founder Lee Kian Soo told staff that the company “does not envisage other Emas Group entities to go through similar exercise at this moment.”

Lee also told staff that the announcement had no immediate impact on the day-to-day operations of the company.

Ezra Holdings shares have been suspended from trading on the Singapore Exchange.

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Grant Rowles

Grant spent nine years at Informa Group based in London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. He gained strong management experience in publishing, conferences and awards schemes in the shipping and legal areas, working on a number of titles including Lloyd's List. In 2009 Grant joined Seatrade responsible for the commercial development of Seatrade’s Asia products. In 2012, with Sam Chambers, he co-founded Asia Shipping Media.

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3 Comments

  1. Julie
    March 19, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Hopefully now:

    1. The Audit Committee Chairpersons of both EZRA and Triyards are transparent with regards the result of any investigation they carried out into the concerns I raised in 2014/2015, before they both left their positions.

    2. There is full transparency with regards to who affixed the signature of Mr. Lau to four Strategic Marine documents delivered to the offices of EZRA Holdings and purportedly witnessed by a member of staff employed by EZRA Holdings? Mr. Lau stating in a Stat Dec and Statement of Claim, that he could not have been witnessed signing those documents.

    3. The contents of the Writ of Summons/Statement of Claim lodged in November 2014 are made public.

    4. Why did the Board of Triyards Holdings proceed with the acquisition of the Strategic Marine assets when they were aware that my husband had already exercised his pre-emptive right to purchase Strategic Marine Pty Ltd.

    Many more serious matters of concern to be addressed.

  2. Sam Chambers
    Sam Chambers
    March 19, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Julie — fancy penning a non-litigious 500 words on what authorities can learn from this debacle?

  3. Luis
    March 21, 2017 at 11:49 am

    …”Lee also told staff that the announcement had no impact on the day-to-day operations of the company…” who are you kidding Mr. Lee? Yourself?