Malaysia’s CIMB alleges ‘suspicious’ Hontop Energy oil deals with BP

A woman wearing a facemask as preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) walks at the business district in Singapore. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 06 July 2020

Malaysia’s CIMB alleges ‘suspicious’ Hontop Energy oil deals with BP

  • Hontop is one of four commodity trading firms in Singapore which ran into financial trouble as the oil price crashed

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s High Court has appointed an independent supervisor to oversee the restructuring of trader Hontop Energy.

The move came after Malaysian lender CIMB, its biggest creditor, raised concerns about what it described as “suspicious” deals involving oil major BP, according to an affidavit filed with the court this week.

Hontop, the trading arm of Chinese independent refiner China Wanda Holding Group Co. Ltd., is one of four commodity trading firms in Singapore which ran into financial trouble as the oil price crashed. CIMB is seeking repayment of $105 million it lent the company.

In the affidavit requesting the appointment of an independent supervisor to run Hontop’s affairs, CIMB Bank Berhad detailed how it lent Hontop the money to finance two crude oil deals late last year in a section titled “Suspicious transactions.” In total, Hintop owes nearly $470 million to seven banks, according to a list of creditors included in the affidavit.

Accounting firm RSM Corporate Advisory Pte Ltd. has been named interim judicial managers following the bank’s application, according to CIMB’s law firm Rajah & Tann and the affidavit. CIMB said it does not disclose or comment on specific names or clients. 

The deals cited by CIMB in its affidavit involved Hontop buying cargoes from Sugih Energy International Pte Ltd., now known as Aeturnum Energy International Pte Ltd, and telling CIMB it was reselling them to BP Singapore Pte Ltd. (BPS), a unit of BP.

Focus Law Asia LLC, representing Aeternum Energy, confirmed the transactions with Hontop.

In the first deal, CIMB agreed to finance Hontop’s sale of Russian ESPO crude onboard vessel Green Attitude to BP on an “open account” basis, where goods are shipped and delivered before payment is due, according to the affidavit.

When CIMB reached out to BP for payment in February, the oil major told the bank that the contract and payment for the cargo had been subject to a separate agreement between BP and Hontop and because it had not received payment from Hontop it was not obliged to pay Hontop or CIMB for the cargo, according to the affidavit.

BP did not specify what the agreement was about or say why it was meant to receive a payment from Hontop.

“It appears to be the case that, when applying for financing, Hontop neglected to disclose to CIMB material details about the nature of its agreement with BP,” BP said in a Feb. 20 letter to CIMB, a copy of which was appended to the affidavit.

In the second deal, for 1 million barrels of Russian Export Blend crude onboard vessel Gem No. 5, BP told CIMB in January that it did not enter into any contracts relating to this cargo.


India’s Reliance to push on with retail deal in battle with Amazon

Updated 26 October 2020

India’s Reliance to push on with retail deal in battle with Amazon

  • The row is the latest development in a prolonged battle for dominance in India between Reliance

MUMBAI: Indian conglomerate Reliance has dismissed Amazon’s push to delay its acquisition of domestic retail giant Future Group, despite an arbitration panel suspending the deal following objections by the US online titan.
The row is the latest development in a prolonged battle for dominance in India between Reliance, owned by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, and Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos is the world’s wealthiest person.
Amazon, which owned a stake in one of Future Group’s firms that reportedly included an option to buy into the flagship company, claims that the $3.4-billion Reliance deal, announced in August, amounted to a breach of contract.
After an arbitration panel ordered the deal to be put on hold following Amazon’s request, Reliance said late Sunday that it would nevertheless “enforce its rights and complete the transaction in terms of the scheme and agreement with Future group without any delay.”
Reliance’s retail subsidiary RRVL said in a statement that it had followed “proper legal advice” before agreeing to buy Future Group, adding that the deal was “fully enforceable under Indian Law.”
Reliance, Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart have been locked in a frenzied contest for a share of India’s lucrative online market.
The acquisition of Future Group, which owns some of India’s best-known supermarket brands such as Big Bazaar, would strengthen Reliance’s presence in the hugely competitive e-commerce sector.
The arbitration panel has 90 days to give a final verdict on the Reliance-Future deal.