SembCorp Marine hit by forex

Shares in Singapore’s SembCorp Marine fell more than 15 per cent on Tuesday after the world’s number two offshore oil rig maker said it could lose up to $248m from alleged unauthorised forex trading by its finance director. SembCorp Marine said Wee Sing Guan, the group finance director, had been relieved from duty. Mr Wee has also resigned from the directorships of SembMarine units, including Jurong Shipyard, on whose account the company claims the currency trades were made. The potential losses for SembCorp Marine include $83m Jurong Shipyard already paid for forex losses and up to $165m on estimated unrealised losses. The total amount would exceed SembMarine’s profits last year of S$234m ($159.7m). SembCorp Marine on Tuesday said it had sold part of its stake in Cosco Corp (Singapore), which has several ship and offshore oil rig building yards in China, for a gain of S$230m, which would mitigate the impact of the forex losses on this year’s results. The company reported a 62 per cent rise in earnings to S$158m in the first half on the back of a boom in global demand for offshore oil rigs. SembMarine said it did not allow speculative forex trading, although it does hedge against currency risks. The US dollar has suffered an unexpectedly sharp 7 per cent fall against the Singapore dollar in the past year, which may have accounted for the forex losses. The company added that steps had been taken “to prevent the entry of any further unauthorised transactions”. Temasek, Singapore’s state-owned investment agency, owns 49 per cent of SembCorp Industries, which in turn has 61.5 per cent of SembCorp Marine. Shares in SembCorp Marine fell 15.4 per cent to S$4.74, while SembCorp Industries dropped nearly 5 per cent to S$6. Cosco closed down 2.7 per cent at S$7.30. The disclosure of the alleged forex trades took investors by surprise since Temasek-linked companies are known for tight financial controls. Drew & Napier, a local law firm, and Ernst & Young, the accounting group, are set to conduct a probe into the transactions on Semb-Corp Marine’s behalf. Three local brokerages cut their ratings on SembCorp Marine following the disclosure of the forex losses in spite of the fact that the company’s fundamentals are seen as strong due to high oil prices, which have led to increased orders for offshore oil rigs

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