Noble skips coupon payment; set to sell vessel

Embattled commodities trader Noble Group has failed to pay the coupon on US$750 million (S$986 million) notes due on March 9, 2022.

Noble said it has availed itself of a 30-day grace period and has "consulted extensively" with some of its senior creditors. It also took into consideration advice from its legal and financial advisers.

"The board considers that the company is very close to reaching final terms with the ad hoc group in respect of a proposed restructuring of the group's unsecured liabilities," it said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) yesterday.

In a separate announcement earlier yesterday, Noble said it and its indirect wholly owned subsidiary Core Integrity had entered into a memorandum of agreement with Bianca Corporation and Primerose Shipping Co to sell a Kamsarmax dry bulk carrier vessel for US$24 million.

The vessel serves external customers as well as Noble Group's internal freight requirements.

Its book value was about US$23.5 million as of Dec 31.

The net loss (before income tax, minority interests and extraordinary items) attributable to the vessel, based on Noble's 2017 results, is approximately US$2 million, the group said in an SGX filing.

"Noble Group has decided to avail itself of favourable market conditions to monetise the vessel," the group said. "The proposed disposal will not significantly impact the operations of Noble Group's freight business."

The vessel is mortgaged to a financial institution and part of the proceeds will be used to pay down the loan, it added.

The net proceeds of US$7.3 million, after the repayment and deducting transaction costs, will form part of the assets of Asset Co, the new company that will come about from Noble's proposed financial restructuring.

The cancelling date for the delivery of the vessel is April 16.

Noble shares closed 3.7 cents up at 17 cents yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2018, with the headline 'Noble skips coupon payment; set to sell vessel'. Print Edition | Subscribe