During the protest against Hyflux’s restructuring plans on Sat (30 Mar), a disgruntled retail investor, 62-year-old Mdm B Chua, told the Straits Times that she lost S$6,000 while her husband lost under S$100,000 of his investment into Hyflux.
She added: “Many of us had kept quiet initially. But I felt I had to come to the protest. We must voice that we do care. We invested in Hyflux because government support for the company was very strong. We invested because Temasek had invested. And Temasek must have done its due diligence.
“When banks sold the securities to us, they told us ‘Temasek invested, so don’t worry. And if you don’t buy, somebody else will. Investors went in because it was a national asset.”
Mdm B Chua is among the 34,000 perpetual securities and preference shareholders who have been left high, and dry by Hyflux, and its beleaguered water plant. These individuals who invested in Hyflux are owed a total of S$900 million, but only stand to receive a recovery rate of 10.7 per cent comprising of 3 per cent in cash and 7 per cent in equity.
Two days after the protest, on Mon (1 Apr), Temasek International responded through a forum letter and asserted that it exited its Hyflux investment in the mid-2000s, “well before the issuance of Hyflux preference shares in 2011 and their perpetual bonds in 2016”.
Temasek International’s Head of Public Affairs Stephen Forshaw, said: “Temasek’s investment in Hyflux was part of an initiative during the early 2000s to invest in Singapore small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to support their growth in promising sectors, such as water technology. Upon completion of its investment objectives, Temasek exited its Hyflux investment.”
“Today, Temasek continues to invest in Singapore SMEs via an independently managed fund, Heliconia Capital Management. Guided by its own board and management, Heliconia seeks to invest growth capital in Singapore-based SMEs.
“In addition to risk capital, Heliconia management also works with its investee companies on strategies and opportunities for regional or international growth.”
Mr Forshaw concluded that “Neither Temasek nor Heliconia has had any investments in Hyflux since 2006.” Read his forum letter in full here.
Interestingly, a quick look at both Heliconia’s and Hyflux’s website shows that a Heliconia board director continues to sit on the board of Hyflux.
The senior official concerned is Gay Chee Cheong, one of Heliconia Capital Management’s board directors who is the chairman of Heliconia’s Investment and Divestment Committee.
Hyflux’s website reveals that Gay is a Non-Executive Independent Director who heads its Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Nominating, Audit, and Investment Committees.
The website explicity states that Gay “chairs the Investment and Divestment Committee at Heliconia Capital Management Private Limited.”
Heliconia Capital Management, which is a “wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings”, proudly states that “Mr Gay is on the Board of Hyflux Limited” on its own website:
Mr Gay is a Sandhurst military school and University of London graduate who also has a Master of Business Administration from the National University of Singapore. Aside from his involvement with Heliconia and Hyflux, he is a board member of CapitaMall Management Trust Limited.
Gay also serves as a member of the Entrepreneurship Committee at the National University of Singapore, Advisory Board member of Temasek Polytechnic and Trustee Board member of United World College South East Asia.
Heliconia states that he is the co-founder and CEO of private investment firm, 2G Capital Private Limited, as well.
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