Embattled Noble receives interest for oil business: FT

SINGAPORE • Struggling commodity trader Noble Group has been approached by potential buyers for its oil business, the Financial Times (FT) newspaper reported yesterday, citing four people familiar with the matter.

Singapore-listed Noble has been sounded out by rival trading companies about buying parts of its Americas-focused oil unit but has so far resisted entering into discussions, the FT reported. It did not name any potential buyers.

Noble had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

A sale of the entire business or part of it would help raise much-needed capital at Noble, which has struggled in recent years against a downturn in commodity markets and questions about its accounts raised by Iceberg Research in 2015. Noble has stood by its accounts.

However, its share price collapsed and credit-rating downgrades, management upheavals and a series of writedowns, asset sales and a fundraising ensued.

Noble's market value has shrunk to just over US$300 million (S$415 million) from US$6 billion in February 2015. The firm reported a surprise quarterly loss of US$129.3 million for the January-March period.

Last month, Reuters reported that Noble was negotiating with banks to roll over a US$2 billion credit facility, secured on its inventories and working capital. The facility is due to be rolled over by the end of this month.

Hong Kong-based Noble is a major participant in the global physical oil market, trading large physical volumes including crude and refined products. It also has blending and wholesale capabilities in North America and the Caribbean, as well as storage capacity globally.

Noble shares closed unchanged at 29.5 cents yesterday, after rising to as high as 30.5 cents intra-day. The stock has fallen more than 80 per cent so far this year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Embattled Noble receives interest for oil business: FT'. Print Edition | Subscribe