entities-linked-to-al-futtaim-extended-robinsons-s$159.2m-in-loans
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Thu, Dec 10, 2020 – 5:50 AM

Singapore

ENTITIES related to the Al-Futtaim group, the parent company of Robinsons, extended S$159.2 million in loans to Robinsons, a document by its liquidators showed, shedding more light on the beleaguered department store operator’s state of affairs.

The document of frequently asked questions, uploaded to the liquidators’ website on Dec 4, stated that RSH Holdings Pte Ltd and Robinson & Co Pte Ltd had loaned about S$90.3 million and S$68.2 million respectively to Robinson & Company (Singapore) Pte Ltd to fund its trading losses. Another S$756,550 in loans was provided by ALF Global Pte Ltd.

These companies are related to the Dubai-based Al-Futtaim conglomerate, which is owned by Emirati tycoon Abdulla Al-Futtaim and run by his son Omar, Forbes reported.

Meanwhile, Robinsons faces S$31.7 million in claims from 442 creditors.

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The liquidators from KordaMentha have said that they are targeting to make a distribution to creditors around April to June next year, with the recovery for creditors dependent on proceeds realised from the sale of assets, which largely comprise retail stock.

However, despite sales performance to date being “largely positive”, there remains “a significant amount” of inventory to sell, the liquidators said in the document. “In our experience, this can often be items with limited demand.”

Gordon Brothers, which KordaMentha engaged to manage the store closures in Singapore, said in a Nov 16 statement that Robinsons had S$25 million worth of retail inventory then.

The department store continues to hold closing-down sales at its outlets at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre, which are expected to stay open till mid- to end-December, with the exact exit dates yet to be confirmed.

Creditors have also questioned why Robinsons’ store at Jem mall was closed just two months prior to the liquidation and not included in the liquidation. KordaMentha said: “Based on our preliminary review to date, the company exited the Jem store to alleviate some of the growing financial pressure it was facing.

“It appears that at the time Jem was exited, the company was firmly of the belief that it could still pay its debts as and when they fell due and that the exit would enhance its ability to continue to trade,” the liquidators added.

However, even with the reduced store numbers, Robinsons’ management was ultimately unable to address the “fundamental business shortcomings”, they said.

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