KUALA LUMPUR: Asia Petroleum Hub Sdn Bhd (APH) and its bankers have reached an understanding, resulting in Datuk Gan Ah Tee of BDO-Binder being discharged as receiver and manager amid talks of new investors emerging to revive the company.
Gan, it seems, was discharged on July 20 this year after being appointed receiver and manager of APH in May this year by CIMB Bank.
When contacted, APH’s managing director Wan Mohd Nasim Wan Abd Kadir confirmed that Gan, the receiver had been removed, and said negotiations with bankers are on-going, but he declined to comment further.
“We will make the appropriate announcement when the time is right,” he told The Edge Financial Daily.
Abdul Rashid Mohamad Isa, who controls KIC Oil & Gas Ltd — the largest shareholder of APH — was also tight-lipped, and declined to comment on market talk that a new investor was likely in APH.
“I cannot say anything... it’s a very sensitive issue,” said Abdul Rashid.
It is also learnt that Rothschild has been playing a key role in sorting out issues plaguing APH, acting as its financial advisor.
Market talk also has it that APH is in negotiations with a few interested parties keen to come into the company to kickstart a project to build an oil terminal on a bunker island off the coast of Johor. It has been reported that APH requires an additional RM1 billion in funding to restart the project.
At present about 60% of the project has been completed at a cost of approximately RM1.4 billion.
|Abdul Rashid controls KIC Oil & Gas Ltd.
From the word go, the project has been fraught with problems.
To recap, APH was given the mandate to build the oil terminal with a storage capacity of more than 940,000 cu m, and multiple jetties to facilitate trans-shipment.
CIMB had stepped forward offering a RM1.4 billion, three-year bridging loan, of which some RM840 million has been drawn down for project cost.
However, the project has been delayed by more than two years.
Shareholders of APH are KIC Oil & Gas controlling 90% and politically-connected Trek Perintis Sdn Bhd the remaining 10%.
However Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s Seaport Terminal (Johore) Sdn Bhd was also slated to have some kind of interest in the project but this has not been clearly spelt out. Some say his interest lies in his ownership of the bunker island, while others say Seaport obtained the bunker island via government funds.
At that time the grand plan involved diverting maritime traffic from Singapore to the bunker island, offering bunker facilities, but problems are understood to have surfaced, and the project was delayed by more than two years, with cost overruns exceeding RM400 million.
According to industry players the delays were largely attributable to the need for redesigning, after the soil on the bunker island, which was largely silt, was found to be unsuitable for building structures. Since the island rested on silt, it was rumoured that APH had to incur additional costs in stabilising using a method incorporating the use of perforated vertical drains, which stalled the entire project.
“In a nutshell the island was not fit to be transformed into a petroleum hub,” the source said.
The possible entry of a new investor and the removal of the receiver and manager, should come as a breath of fresh air for Muhibbah Engineering Bhd which was given the contract to build a jetty, conduct soil stabilisation works and civil works for a sum of RM840 million.
There were fears that Muhibbah would slip into the red, having to write down about RM300 million due from APH.
When news of receivers taking over the management of APH first emerged in May, Muhibbah tumbled some 20%.
This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, August 9, 2011.