Republic Bank to submit plan to save NiQuan

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

NiQuan Energy Trinidad Ltd. – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

AS NiQuan Energy seeks to block a winding up petition to enforce a multi-million dollar court judgment, a leading commercial bank has asked the court for an opportunity to present a proposal to rehabilitate the financially-crippled gas-to-liquids company.

Attorneys for Republic Bank Ltd wrote to the court on May 15, with its proposal. At a hearing on May 3, they were given until June 3 to submit the proposal to save Niquan from the winding up petition.

If the proposal is rejected by NiQuan’s secured and unsecured creditors, the bank will be expected to put in evidence for objecting to the petition. The matter is expected to go to trial on June 15.

In their letter to the court, Republic Bank’s attorneys said the bank was the collateral agent under a short-term note instrument (STNI) issued by NiQuan to 20 note holders from various countries.

“As collateral agent, our client is contractually obliged to represent the interest of the noteholders with respect to the STNI and accompanying registered security granted in relation to the STNI in favour of the Noteholders which includes all tangible and intangible assets of Niquan secured under a charge of shares and a mortgage debenture (security).

“As at the date of this letter, the STNI covers debt owed by NiQuan to the noteholders in the amount of US$175,000,000.”

The bank’s attorney Jonathan Walker admitted NiQuan has faced “substantial operational challenges” and had defaulted on its obligations under the STNI.

He said a steering committee was established to consider the issues NiQuan faces and consider options to safeguard the noteholders’ interests “which includes options for the rehabilitation of NiQuan.”

Walker said the steering committee has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop a plan to rehabilitate NiQuan’s operations “with the overall intent being to put Niquan back in a position to settle its

obligations to its various creditor groups.”

The process to rehabilitate Niquan, he said, was expected to take eight to twelve months.

“The making of an order to wind up NiQan could potentially jeopardise this initiative, to the detriment of creditors, both secured and unsecured

“For example, such an order will render material operating contracts imminently terminable, thereby severely restricting options for access to financing.

“Similarly, it is often the case that there are differences in objectives between a liquidator and a rehabilitation of the company.”

NiQuan’s former vice president for global services, David Small filed the petition on February 1, to recover a $21 million court-ordered payout owed to him for breach of a written separation agreement.

Justice Westmin James is presiding over the petition.