The Singapore Flyer, the world’s tallest observation wheel, takes bad turn into receivership in less than 5 years from heavy debt and mismanagement; In 2009, some of the company’s investors lost a bid to depose Florian Bollen as chairman

May 28, 2013, 2:54 p.m. ET

Singapore Landmark Takes Bad Turn

Some Assets of Big Observation Wheel Enter Receivership

By CHUN HAN WONG

signapore_flyer

The Singapore Flyer, the world’s tallest observation wheel, has had some of its assets put in receivership.

Just five years after its opening, a Singapore tourist landmark faces a financial storm.

The Singapore Flyer, the world’s tallest observation wheel, has had some of its assets put in receivership, a process often used by creditors to take control of a business in order to recover debt.Ferrier Hodgson, a consulting firm specializing in insolvency and corporate turnarounds, said Tuesday that it has been named as receiver and manager over certain assets owned by Singapore Flyer Pte. Ltd., the operator of the 165-meter-tall observation wheel near the city-state’s glitzy Marina Bay district.

A receiver is someone appointed by creditors to settle outstanding loans, typically by taking control and managing some or all of a debtor company’s assets.

In its written statement, Ferrier Hodgson said: “It is business as usual” at the Singapore Flyer, adding that it will work with partners and tour operators to ensure “smooth operations” during the receivership period.

Ferrier Hodgson also said it intends to seek long-term investment for the observation wheel, in an effort to secure its “long-term future as a significant Singapore attraction.”

“We will be calling for expressions of interest shortly to commence the process,” Ferrier Hodgson said. It declined to elaborate on how the Singapore Flyer entered receivership and who its creditors are.

In its latest corporate records filed to Singapore regulators, Singapore Flyer lists German lender UniCredit Bank AG as a creditor.

Singapore Flyer Chairman Florian Bollen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.

The Singapore Flyer, which opened in March 2008, has endured operation failures, management turmoil and disappointing visitor numbers. Mechanical problems hit the wheel early in its operation, including a breakdown in December 2008 that trapped 173 people aboard the attraction for six hours. Ridership figures foundered despite a promising start, as the operator struggled to match its record high of 230,000 visitors in July 2008.

Singapore Flyer also has contended with tension between management and investors. In 2009, some of the company’s investors lost a bid to depose Mr. Bollen as chairman but managed to remove another board director.

Singapore Flyer placed in receivership

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Flyer has been placed in receivership just 5 years after it opened.

BY –

17 HOURS 18 MIN AGO

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Flyer has been placed in receivership just 5 years after it opened.

Tim Reid, Theresa Ng and Tan Aik Kiat of Ferrier Hodgson have been appointed as Receivers and Managers over the charged assets of Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd, the company which owns the 165-metre-high observation wheel.

Commenting on the development, Mr Reid said the Flyer is an iconic attraction and has become an integral part of Singapore’s city skyline: “We are confident that we will be able to identify investors with the vision to manage, diversify and enhance the Singapore Flyer, thereby securing its long-term future as a significant Singapore attraction. We will be calling for expressions of interest shortly to commence the process.”

He add that it is business as usual at the attraction, and his team looks forward to the support of management and staff through the process.

“We are committed to working closely with business partners and tour operators to ensure smooth operations throughout the receivership.”

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in a statement: “STB reserves our rights as landlord and will be closely engaging the various parties involved to ensure the best possible outcome that enhances the tourism sector. We look forward to a smooth resolution with minimal disruption to the public and visitors.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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