PUB takes over Tuaspring desalination plant from Hyflux

SINGAPORE - National water agency PUB has taken over the Tuaspring desalination plant from troubled firm Hyflux on Saturday (May 18).

The transfer came after the water purchase agreement with Tuaspring was terminated on Friday.

PUB said in a statement on Saturday that the move was "to safeguard Singapore's water security".

It had said previously that it will keep employees with the relevant operational capabilities to run the desalination plant, and that it would "facilitate a smooth transition".

The desalination facility is part of the Tuaspring Integrated Water and Power Plant that cost Hyflux $1.05 billion.

Profits from the power plant were meant to subsidise the desalination plant's running costs but lower electricity prices and operating losses from desalination operations sent Hyflux into debt.

The firm filed for court protection to reorganise its debts in May last year. It had borrowings of $2.95 billion as at March 31 last year.

 
 
 
 

On Thursday, United Arab Emirates entity Utico said it had asked the PUB to delay the takeover as it was hoping to enter a deal with Hyflux to fix the operational and financial defaults at Tuaspring Integrated Water and Power Plant that Hyflux had failed to rectify.

The defaults, coupled with a failed $530 million rescue deal by Indonesian consortium SM Investments, resulted in PUB stepping in.

Utico has offered to invest $400 million in Hyflux.

Hyflux is also in talks with Mauritius-based multi-strategy investment firm Oyster Bay Fund, which could invest up to $500 million.

A third suitor, said by Hyflux to be one of the world's top 10 biggest desalination firms, has shown interest in acquiring certain Hyflux assets in the Middle East and North Africa.