Ezra still faces going concern, backs “substantial” liabilities of ECS under Chapter 11


EZRA Holdings said that the Chapter 11 filing on associated company Emas Chiyoda Subsea (ECS Group) does not deal with its charter-hire liabilities of hundreds of millions that relate to vessels chartered by the ECS Group.

The embattled oil-and-gas firm added on Thursday late evening that it will still face going concern issues if creditors make claims against these liabilities that are guaranteed by Ezra.

Ezra initially on Thursday lifted a trading halt of its shares at 8.30am.

At 8.34am, it again halted trading of its shares “to allow investors and shareholders more time to read and process the earlier announcement”.

Ezra said on Thursday that it has guaranteed a substantial proportion of these liabilities, which total to about US$0.4 billion. In addition, the ECS Group currently has an aggregate of about US$0.5 billion of loans owing to financial institutions. These are guaranteed by Ezra.

Ezra also has “substantial contingent liabilities” relating to performance and bank guarantees granted by it for projects undertaken by the ECS Group.

“Such amounts are not quantifiable as at the date of this announcement,” Ezra said. “The company understands that the ECS Group intends to continue with those projects so the potential liability in relation to these guarantees is unclear.”

ECS Group had on February 27 filed voluntary petitions for reorganisation under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code.

On top of the Chapter 11 filing, ECS Group had placed its Norway-based wholly owned subsidiary under members’ voluntary liquidation in Norway. This unit, EMAS-AMC, has also suffered a termination of agreement by Gulen Base over the development, construction and lease agreement for the Halsvik spoolbase, Ezra said on Thursday.

This was due to the “material payment default” of EMAS-AMC. Ezra is a guarantor for the performance by EMAS-AMC AS of its obligations under the agreement.

“The ECS Chapter 11 filing, together with the Norwegian liquidation, may constitute events of default under the charter parties, loan agreements and projects of the ECS Group; and the moratorium afforded under the ECS Chapter 11 filing does not stay claims against the company in relation to these guarantees,” Ezra said, with the company here referring to itself.

“In the event claims are made against the company in relation to any or all of these guarantees, the company will face an immediate going concern issue.”

Notably, Ezra pointed to an expired deadline for payments. This refers to statutory demands from one of Ezra’s lenders relating to a claim by Forland Subsea on a corporate guarantee provided by Ezra over outstanding charter hire payments owing by EMAS-AMC.

“These creditors are at liberty to apply for the company to be wound up by the High Court of Singapore upon the ground…that the company is unable to pay its debts. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the company is continuing its efforts to engage these creditors in relation to these claims.”

Separately, Ezra’s unit EMAS Offshore said there has been a delay in documentation linked to “in principle agreements with the substantial majority of its principal bankers on the refinancing of its financial obligations and the provision of additional working capital facilities”. EMAS Offshore has sought for an extension of the deadline, with the refinancing initially expected to be concluded before the end of the second quarter of financial year 2017.

Ezra said it is currently seeking advice on the ECS Chapter 11 filing and the liquidation action, as well as assessing the impact of such filings on the group.

Source: businesstimes.com.sg / By Jamie Lee



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