Singapore shares open higher as Noble deal gives market a fillip

Singapore shares edged higher in early trading, boosted by gains in bank and property counters.

The benchmark Straits Times Index was up 1.68 points at 3,200.2, lifted by gains in DBS Group Holdings, OCBC Bank and CapitaLand.

Giving the index a boost was Noble Group, which rose five cents or 4.2 per cent to $1.245 on news that Cofco Corporation has agreed to acquire a 51 per cent stake in Noble Agri from Noble Group at 1.15 times book value.

As at Dec 31, Noble Agri had shareholders' equity of US$2.8 billion and net debt of US$2.5 billion.

Noble Agri will become the principal international origination platform for COFCO, with its upstream origination and trading operations linked to the downstream processing and distribution capabilities of Cofco and its affiliates in China to create a fully integrated value chain, consistent with Cofco's strategy.

A consortium of international investors led by Hopu Investments will join Cofco as minority co-investors in this acquisition. Cofco will hold two-thirds of the investment vehicle with the balance held by the Hopu-led consortium.