Noble CEO Yusuf Alireza resigns, group to sell US energy unit

Yusuf Alireza, chief executive officer of Noble Group Ltd.
Yusuf Alireza, chief executive officer of Noble Group Ltd. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Mr Alireza will be replaced by current senior executives with the firm, Mr William Randall (left) and Mr Jeff Frase.
Mr Alireza will be replaced by current senior executives with the firm, Mr William Randall (left) and Mr Jeff Frase.PHOTOS: NOBLE GROUP

SINGAPORE - Singapore-listed commodity firm Noble Group announced on Monday morning (May 30) that its chief executive officer Yusuf Alireza has resigned with immediate effect.

In a separate announcement on Monday, the company said Mr Alireza will be replaced by co-CEOs - executive director William Randall and president of Noble Americas Jeff Frase.

It also announced on Monday that it will shortly be starting the sale process for Noble Americas Energy Solutions and said it expects "to generate both significant cash proceeds and profits to substantially enhance the balance sheet".

Formerly named Sempra Energy Solutions, it was acquired by Noble in 2010 for US$582 million. The power marketer offers supply and risk management services to commercial and industrial customers.

Its sale will be in addition to fund-raising initiatives previously announced, said Noble.

Noble has been battling a commodity slump and allegations of accounting inaccuracies since February last year when it was accused by Iceberg Research of overstating its assets by billions of dollars. Noble has rejected the claims.

Noble said Mr Alireza has "helped guide Noble through a very challenging period, moving the company to an asset light, merchant focused model" that involved the sale of its Noble Agri unit and refinancing of billions in loans.

"With this transformation process now largely complete, Mr Alireza considered that the time was right for him to move on," Noble said.

The company added it expects to announce more leadership appointments "in due course as the business developments dictate".

But it said Mr Richard Elman will continue in his role as chairman and executive director.

Noble shares fell over 3 per cent when trading opened on Monday. The stock was trading at 29.5 Singapore cents, down 3.3 per cent, as of 9.14am.

Noble is seeking to chart a recovery this year after it posted the first annual loss in almost two decades, had its credit rating cut to junk and saw its shares sink along with a rout in raw material prices.

Its shares bottomed at 27 cents in January after tumbling 65 per cent last year, and swung back to a high this year of 49 cents in March.

Commenting on the management changes, Mr Elman said: "I am delighted that Will and Jeff will be leading Noble Group's operations as we embark on the company's next chapter. Their complementary commodities expertise and geographical focus will be hugely valuable as we position ourselves for the future."

Hong Kong-based Mr Randall began his career with Noble in Australia in February 1997, establishing coal operations, mining and supply chain management businesses.

He was also director of Noble Energy Inc prior to being appointed global head of coal and coke in 2006, and a member of the Noble Group internal management committee board in 2008. He was appointed an executive director and head of hard commodities in 2012.

US-based Mr Frase joined Noble from JP Morgan in New York where he was managing director and global head of oil trading. Prior to JP Morgan he spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs where he was a managing director and global head of crude oil and derivatives trading.