Commodities firm Noble posts smaller loss as it enters make-or-break period
A series of shareholder meetings and legal rulings over the next few weeks will decide the fate of the once-mighty trading house
Singapore — Embattled commodities trader Noble Group has reported a smaller quarterly net loss as it enters a make-or-break phase ahead of shareholder meetings and legal rulings over the next few weeks.
Once Asia’s largest commodity house, Singapore-listed Noble has shrunk its business after selling billions of dollars of assets, taking hefty write-downs and cutting hundreds of jobs over the past three years to raise funds and slash debt.
On Tuesday, Noble posted a net loss of $72m in the January-March period, versus a loss of $129m a year ago, although revenue fell 37% to $1.2bn.
The company said that though global commodity prices strengthened in the first quarter, "the group’s performance continues to be impacted by the ongoing constraints on liquidity and availability of trade finance to support its operations".
Noble was plunged into crisis in February 2015 when Iceberg Research questioned its books, and its market value has collapsed since then to barely $80m from $6bn.
The company has defended its accounting and is seeking approval from shareholders to halve its $3.4bn debt in return for handing over 70% of equity to senior creditors, mostly a group of hedge funds.
Abu Dhabi-based Goldilocks Investment, which holds 8.1% in Noble, is resisting the proposal and has filed complaints and lawsuits against Noble, arguing that the plan protects creditors at the expense of shareholders.