Sunday, 14 January 2018

Big losses in listed O&G /marine companies…But salaries still big

It’s been awhile since I delved into the reading of annual reports. Last night I decided to read reports of several listed O&G/marine companies in Singapore.

Big losses

Undoubtedly many listed O&G/marine companies were in dire straits and outlook ahead were uncertain. There is no question that balance sheets of many these companies are strained with piling debts. Liabilities exceeded assets with limited cash to keep business going. Not to mention the reliability of the “assets”, if they truly worth what it was stated. Auditors also raised going concern doubts for many companies.

Many companies had loses in 2015 & 2016 that cannot even covered what they had been earning for the last 5 or more years during the hey days when Oil prices were soaring. Loses can be as high as tens or even hundreds of millions per annum for companies with market cap of less than 100 millions. Year 2017, which was yet to be reported, is likely to be even worse.

Perhaps it left us wondering where did these companies manage to get the cash to incur the huge loses and yet still able to sustain salary packages and continue their operation.

Big salaries

Due to the bad results, cost cutting is often one of the inevitable measures cited by Chairman and CEOs to weather the storm of the sector downturn.

Ok, cut the salaries of CEOs, directors and top management then in proportion to the company’s performance then!

Hmmm….. a peek at the annual salary packages of many of these companies’ top management reveals that most of them are all still drawing annual income at levels of >250 or >500 thousands. Perhaps it is not much lower, if not even same or even higher as during the good times before the oil crisis.  Independent directors, who usually are acting as advisors attending few meetings a year, are also still getting their fair share of very good money.

Imagine the top management trying to cost-cut those earning less than 50k p.a. and making work life difficult for them, when they are still lucratively earning 500k yearly, and may still traveling on first or business class flights on company expenses.

Isn’t the top management the ones who are responsible for the profit and losses of the companies? With the companies incurring far-fetched loses, yet those responsible are still getting fat pay-checks, but squeezing and stressing those employees who desperately need the paltry salaries to sustain their family expenses.

The main culprits

The banks are of course even worse and the main culprits who started all these in cahoots with the CEOs. They were the ones who introduced the various debt instruments and cheap money to the CEOs for expansion during the good times.

When crisis struck and things got screwed, it is evident that on paper, companies and banks suffered huge loses. Yet, these losses incurred for banks and companies are somehow all paper money only. Individually, many of the top employees are still filthy rich.

Oh… by the way, the worst it can get is that banks and companies can always introduced all sorts of complicated debt-restructuring programs to continue to keep the companies afloat, cleverly “playing” time delay. Even if listed companies were to undergo bankruptcies or judicial management, many of these companies still keep the top management and pay them good salaries.

The material winners and losers

Regardless of crisis or not, bankers who introduced the various debt instruments still get their lucrative commissions. CEOs and top management still get their fat salaries. Even many major shareholders who lost lots of their “paper stock money” were really not that affected financially, having already cash out during the euphoric share price rise during IPO.

On the contrary, employees who work their ass out, earning meager salaries get stress up now or lost their jobs and struggled to pay their bills! Small investors of these companies lost their hard-earn monies and cried foul.

The root of the roots

Of course all the debt instruments have no chance to be introduced, unless the governmental/regulatory authorities allowed them.

Remember that during the crisis of 2009, many of the O&G/marine companies were not that badly hit, primarily because they were not so indebted by all the “bonds and MTNs”.

It is all greed! 

And going back to the source, perhaps it is not even the CEOs or bankers, or bank CEO…. but perhaps the country herself. You can either call it “the ambition of an aspirated accelerated economic growth”, or simply “evil gimmicks”. 

The scenario in the O&G sector is merely a small warning and maybe even very mild in its evilness. 

Consider all those tech companies who have been making losses every year, all you need is a good story for the fund managers or even governmental agencies to buy into it, then the owner will be able to cash out, paying themselves good salaries using public or agencies’ monies and the success story will continue. 

Not complaining, just to bring awareness

Anyway, I am not complaining, and am never the kind who rants and complains.  I just want to inform that this is truly the world we are living in today.  

And a disclaimer that I am not one of those suffering in the above-mentioned companies listed in Singapore. In fact the company that I had been working for many years now, is seeing record high order intake lately that as a group that we are really running short of capacities. It is definitely a unfamiliar situation considering that in 2015 and 2016 we are also laying off hundreds of people as a group and significant retrenchments in Singapore also. Please accept that I am not boasting of the fortunate situation my company is experiencing now, but instead I am sincerely humble and grateful. All is by the grace of higher powers maybe, lest anyone should boast and claim credit?

Somehow this article is to bring to the awareness that it is quite ridiculous how this world has become, chasing the material aspects of life, especially in affluent city like Singapore. And people are becoming more and more selfish, self-loved and self-centered, always only thinking “what is it for me?” or “what can I get out of it?” rather than how can I help the needy looking at their root problems? Undoubtedly the rich are becoming richer, and the poor, poorer…the evil becoming more evil, and the righteous becoming more righteousness still (hopefully).

Final thoughts

Although it is totally unsurprising for me that this kind of unrighteous ethics is going to be more commonplace or even more wicked as time passes, it does disgust me a lot to continue reading on the annual reports, last night. Haha…

So I stopped reading the reports, and this also contributed to one of the reasons why I am blogging lesser nowadays about all the stocks and the material aspect of life. Material wealth and power of this world after-all is temporary and will just disappear once your time in this present age ended. So why are we spending so much time on it anyway. I did chase that a lot once upon time and are glad that I see the light now. 

Are you now still chasing? 

Instead I am concentrating more on the true wisdom in life, which is making the most out of life, rather than making lots of money. It is about impacting and changing lives of people around me with the true purpose of our existence. 

You may not realise. The more a person becoming more selfless in a wise manner, the more eventually all the things will fall in place peacefully. It includes relationships with families, friends and in work place and even your finance will miraculously fall into place, lest you even keep focusing on it. 

Enough said. If you are reading this article till now, I am truly thankful. May you and your loved ones be blessed with true love, peace and joy, and keep on becoming more and more righteous and selfless, making the most out of life.  

Oh yar.... this is my first blog article in 2018. Happy New Year to all the readers and have a splendid 2018 and beyond ahead.