Potential Hyflux white knight Utico to set up office here, Latest Business News - The New Paper

Potential Hyflux white knight Utico to set up office here

This article is more than 12 months old

Middle East utility provider Utico is setting up a project development, operations and marketing office here.

It plans to staff the centre with 15 to 20 employees within the next six months, a company spokesman said yesterday.

It has not specified what markets the office will service.

The privately held water and power company's expansion plans are separate from its proposed rescue package for debt-laden water-treatment firm Hyflux.

"We will expand with or without the Hyflux deal because the South-east Asian market is already part of our growth plan," the spokesman said.

Utico announced on Tuesday night that it will boost its global headcount by 100, including the planned hires in Singapore, within the next six months.

Most of the new employees in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be in senior and mid-level management, while the rest will join upcoming operations in the new markets of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Singapore.

The manpower increase comes ahead of the commissioning of Utico's 750 million dirham (S$283 million) desalination facility in the UAE, the company noted.

Chief executive Richard Menezes said: "We see an exciting 12 months ahead, with capacity expansions, forays into new markets in the region and beyond, and new projects, including significant developments in renewables."

Utico is a potential white knight in Hyflux's debt restructuring.

Hyflux's lawyer told a court on Monday that even if a deal with Utico fell through, other investors stand ready to invest in the embattled water-treatment firm.

The court also granted a two-month extension on Hyflux's debt moratorium until Dec 2. - THE STRAITS TIMES