oBike liquidators FTI Consulting respond to refund complaints in Singapore

18 July 2018 Consultancy.asia

In an update on the collapse of Singaporean bike-sharing outfit oBike, company liquidators FTI Consulting have said they’ve received more than 3,000 claims for a refund of customer deposits.

The international business advisory FTI Consulting was brought in as a provisional liquidator for the wind-up of oBike in its home market of Singapore, following an announcement in June that the bike-sharing firm would exit the local market due to the introduction of crippling new Land Transport Authority (LTA) legislation which sought to address indiscriminate parking, with registration costs totaling $60 per bike and fines of up to $10,000 for unlicensed operations.

In a dent to the wide-eyed optimism of a sharing economy reliant on civil human behavior, oBike and similar bike sharing firms have since their introduction received a string of bad press from numerous cities around the world concerning bike dumping, vandalism, visual pollution and, for the dockless models like oBike, indiscriminate parking, with the firms forced to withdraw from several markets due to insurmountable property loss and regulatory crackdowns.

However, a recent spate of sudden service withdrawals from cities in Europe to Australia and Asia and beyond has seen thousands of customers worldwide scrambling for the return of their deposits, with outstanding oBike deposits in Singapore amounting to S$6.3 million in total across a fleet of some 70,000 bicycles. FTI, which is working with the LTA to retrieve the abandoned bikes following a July 4 deadline to have them cleared from the streets, has said it expects more customer refund submissions to come.oBike liquidators FTI Consulting respond to refund complaints in SingaporeThe refund application process has however drawn additional criticism – potentially curbing the number of submissions to date – due to both personal detail requirements and the inability to register for a refund through the oBike mobile app. In response, FTI Consulting clarified in a statement that the oBike app was not presently under the control of oBike Singapore but a separate overseas entity within the oBike group.

“The provisional liquidators have no control over or rights in relation to the operation of the app. As such, the provisional liquidators are presently unable to process any refunds (if any), through the app. However, the provisional liquidators are exploring this option and will update if it becomes feasible,” the FTI statement read, adding that the requested personal information for verification – such as credit card statements, identification numbers or telephone bills - required for the application was in line with regulatory rules in the Companies Act.

The requested information “is intended to provide sufficient details for the provisional liquidators to identify and verify the information submitted by the creditors against the information contained in the company's records,” FTI stated, and that once the relevant statutory requirements had been met the firm would destroy the data gathered solely for the purpose of adjudication – with FTI further assuring bike-sharing customers that their details wouldn’t be shared with oBike or any other third party.

Surbana Jurong strikes deal to develop shipping corridor across Mexico

19 April 2019 Consultancy.asia

Singapore-headquartered urban and infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong has been appointed as a master-planner for the Interoceanic Corridor project in Mexico.

At 40 kilometers wide and 300 long, Mexico’s slated $150 million Interoceanic Corridor will dissect the country’s Tehuantepec isthmus to connect its Atlantic and Pacific coasts – with the aim of facilitating trade and fast-tracking local economic growth. Now, the project has a new and far more distant connection, with the involvement of Singaporean-headquartered infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong.

Striking a deal with the Mexican state governments of Veracruz and Oaxaca, Surbana Jurong will develop a strategic plan for the Interoceanic Corridor as well as provide master planning on two associated special economic zones, in what the rapidly growing firm states is a significant milestone in its international aspirations – which over the past few years have already seen its presence grow to 130-plus offices in more than 40 countries.

“We are privileged to be appointed as master planners for the Interoceanic Corridor project. Surbana Jurong has a strong track record, having delivered master plans for projects in over 30 countries and are pleased to contribute our expertise towards Mexico’s development success,” said Surbana Jurong Group CEO Wong Heang Fine on helping to unlock the region’s economic potential.Surbana Jurong strikes deal to develop interoceanic corridor across MexicoAccording to the firm, the agreement will see Surbana Jurong perform a detailed review of the Interoceanic Corridor including its broad socio-economic benefits to the region and potential growth industrial clusters, with the strategic plan comprising of recommendations on market positioning and development directions, proposals for utilities and services infrastructure, and zoning plans to identify land use distribution along the corridor.

In addition, the firm will devise the master plan for two economic development areas along the Interoceanic Corridor in the states of Veracruz and Oaxaca, guiding the physical development of the two industrial sites through planning of land use, infrastructure, utilities and transportation – with the aim of “creating a conducive environment for investment and providing a quality living environment for the people that live and work there.”

“We are pleased to see the partnership continue to make progress since we started this conversation a few years ago,” said Khor Aik Lam, Latin America Regional Group Director of Enterprise Singapore, which helped facilitate the deal. “The strong commitment and joint efforts from all parties have culminated in this milestone venture to bring Singapore’s economic development capabilities to Mexico.”

Connecting the ports of Salinas Cruz on the Pacific coast and Coatzacoalcos on the Atlantic, the local Interoceanic Corridor is one of a number of proposed or under development cross-continental shipping routes to rival the Panama Canal, including routes across Guatemala and Nicaragua – with the contemporary race harking back to the 19th Century when a number of American industry and shipping titans fought to be the first.