Titan in talks to acquire oil rig shipyard
Injection of asset key in shake-up of debt-laden company, which awaits backing from creditors and a deal with Singapore maker of oil rigs
Debt-laden Titan Petrochemicals says it is in advanced talks with an unidentified Singapore-based manufacturer of oil drilling rigs to use a mothballed shipyard that may be injected by major shareholder Guangdong Zhenrong Energy into Titan.
Guangdong Zhenrong has been trying to convince creditors since late last year to accept its proposal to restructure Titan's debt of more than US$400 million.
Guangdong Zhenrong hopes the creditors will make up their minds soon, after the release by Hong Kong-listed Titan a week ago of its financial statements for 2012, which said its auditor was unable to find sufficient evidence to support their truthfulness, said Titan chief executive Tang Chaozhang.
"The foundation for Titan's restructuring is the shipyard, which is potentially its only viable asset," Tang said. "Guangdong Zhenrong has been working hard to find a partner to make use of the asset and come up with a viable business model."
In November last year, Titan signed a memorandum of understanding with an unnamed Singapore-based rig maker, which Tang said was a regional industry leader.
Citing a confidentiality agreement, he declined to discuss the potential means of co-operation, except to say that equipment could be installed at the shipyard in Fujian province to enable rig manufacturing.
He said the cost of equipment should not be a barrier to Titan's entrance to the new business as the key to success was the Singapore partner's industry know-how, adding that some investors had committed to put in about HK$700 million in Titan provided the debt restructuring was successful.
They include Guangdong Zhenrong - a unit of state-owned commodities trader Zhuhai Zhenrong - Singapore-listed offshore oilfield services provider Falcon Energy and Titan's chairman Zhao Xuguang.
Tang would not provide a cost estimate for the equipment, but said: "China's oil rigs production volume has been growing rapidly. We better grab the market opportunity as soon as possible."
He estimated the shipyard would have an annual capacity to make eight rigs, with market prices varying from US$200 million to US$700 million each.
Violet Siu, Titan's director of corporate communications, said restructuring needed support from at least 75 per cent of voting bondholders.
Siu said a bondholders' meeting in November found that 81.7 per cent of them were in favour of the restructuring proposal, which provided various cash-plus-shares and cash-or-shares options for bondholders and unsecured debt holders.
"Some of them were quite taken aback by the 2012 results due to the auditor's qualified opinion," she said, but added the detailed disclosures should help creditors make up their minds whether to accept the proposal.
The auditor said it was unable to find sufficient documentary evidence to support the financial reporting by Titan's Singapore units, some of Titan's deposits, receivables and pre-payments, assets impairments, among a long list of other items.
Titan posted a net loss of HK$4 billion for 2012, compared with a loss of HK$621 million for 2011. Last year's results will be announced next month.