2021 New Year Message
2021: New Year Message
Will Hindsight be 2020?
2020 - What a year! We started the year with a major commodities
company seeking court protection for its astronomical debt. The year has
since been peppered with one company after one collapsing under a
mountain of debt. Perhaps, it is not surprising then, that the year ended
with yet another commodities trader seeking court protection in Dec.
Trade finance has taken a beating in 2020 with a combination of trade
fraud scandals, Covid-19, the oil crash and global market uncertainty. The
rot in commodities trading has been exposed, i.e., when traders are no
longer in the business of finance for trade, but trading to raise finance.
And with that, the many dubious aspects of trade have risen to the
surface– fictitious trades, double financing, forged documents,
manipulated financial statements etc. This is not a bad thing for the
industry – it represents a moment of catharsis to cut the rot, adjust
financing costs and re-evaluate the velocity of trade finance.
The interface between shipping and commodities has also been pronounced in 2020 with the prevalent
use of letters of indemnity for discharge or payment, coming under close scrutiny. The issue of who
bears the risk of fraudulent documents under letters of credit or insurance policies has and will continue
to be tested. It appears to me that the only realistic solution lies with digitization of trade documents
but there continues to be inertia in the community against its widescale adoption, and as such the risk
inherent in misdelivery claims is likely to stay and has to be managed.
Many areas of the commodities market however have been booming with iron ore leading the way with
some record pricing. The work that has kept us busy in 2020 is reflective of this trend as we find
ourselves occupied with work in the following areas:
Enforcement actions, restructuring and insolvency in agri and oil sectors
Arbitrations in oil, coal, metals and shipping sectors
Advising on payment instruments such as BLs, LOIs and security documentation
Trade fraud investigation and insurance claims
Operational aspects of trading affected by Covid-19
As prices move upwards and liquidity continues to tighten, we expect an increase in non-performance
and catastrophic collapses in 2021. Restructuring mandates will continue to dominate the landscape.
In the next few pages, we have listed some highlights of our work. Our highlight for 2020 came earlier
in the year when we were nominated in the inaugural Legal 500 SE Asia awards for International
Arbitration alongside global heavyweight arbitration law firms. It took us by surprise, but we were
heartened that our message of competing with the best in the world resonated with many of you. In a
world of Goliath law firms, we will always be a David and every aspect of this firm embodies those values
of overcoming the odds, surpassing limits, and changing prevailing mindsets.
Thank you for the support and I wish you every success in 2021.
Our clients are the world’s largest MNCs including mining companies, oil conglomerates and trading
houses with head offices listed in Australia, Europe, India and China. We advise traders in metals,
minerals and softs on their operations across the world and advise lenders, insurers and borrowers on
power, trade and investment structures, defaults and investigations.
Middle East Oil
Our Work Highlights
Petchem Borrowing Base
SG / UK Insolvency
Agri Borrowing Base
SG Restructuring Proceedings
Supply Chain Financing
Enforcement/ Trade Investigation
Letters of Indemnity
Trade Investigation/ Debt Enforcement
SG, Malaysia, India, UAE
Upstream Oil Project
70 Shenton Way #10-11/12 Eon Shenton Singapore 079118
Office: +65 6970 1677 Email: email@example.com
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