Noble shares jump 14.8% as commodity trader seen overhauling metals unit

A Noble Group sign is pictured at a meet-the-investors event in Singapore.
A Noble Group sign is pictured at a meet-the-investors event in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Shares of Singapore-listed Noble Group surged the most since August as the commodities trader was said to be overhauling its metals unit after vowing to focus on delivering immediate results.

The stock was trading up 14.8 per cent to 46.5 cents as of 1:29 pm local time. It was the most-heavily traded counter, with 196.3 million shares changing hands.

The worst performer on the benchmark Straits Times Index has still tumbled more than 60 per cent this year after Iceberg Research and short-seller Muddy Waters questioned its accounting policies.

Investors have also been deserting companies linked to commodities as faltering demand in China, the biggest buyer of metals and energy, sent prices of raw materials plunging. Noble's cutting back on copper and zinc trading and focusing on aluminum and alumina, according to a person familiar with the situation.

"If you look at some of the recent management departures, they're moving away from some of the businesses which are unlikely to do so well over the next few years," Carey Wong, an analyst with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., said by phone on Friday. "There's a sense that they're changing their strategy, their focus."

At least five traders in the US and the UK this month left the company, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Chief executive officer Yusuf Alireza told shareholders in August that the focus would be on businesses that can deliver results immediately, rather than in 18 months or two years.

Noble announced on Thursday it hired former Trafigura Pte Ltd. executive Wael Amer to expand its Middle East and African oil-trading business.