Noble Group halts share trading after bond default


Singapore-listed Noble Group Ltd halted trading of its shares on Thursday after defaulting on a $394 million bond that matured this week, as the commodity trader seeks a $3.4 billion debt restructuring seen as critical for its survival.

Noble’s restructuring deal has been opposed by some bondholders and shareholders, including Goldilocks Investment Co, which has an 8.1 percent stake in the firm.

Goldilocks filed a lawsuit with a Singapore court against the commodities trader and some of its former and current senior executives, alleging they inflated Noble’s assets.

Noble said it plans to vigorously resist any and all allegations or claims made against it.

Noble, which said earlier it would not make the redemption payment on the maturing bonds, confirmed the default on Thursday and said it will announce more details on the proposed restructuring at an appropriate time.

Once Asia’s largest commodity trader, Noble was plunged into crisis in February 2015 when Iceberg Research questioned its books. Noble has stood by its accounting.

Hong Kong-headquartered Noble has been negotiating a debt-for-equity swap for months after selling billions of dollars of assets, reporting big losses due to a severe commodities downturn, and cutting hundreds of jobs over the past three years.

Noble said on Thursday a group of senior creditors, who support its restructuring plan, now holds 50 percent of its debt, and expected more lenders to back the package.

Under the deal, Noble is seeking to halve its senior debt and hand over 70 percent of the restructured business to creditors.

Noble’s market value has fallen to just $114 million, from $6 billion in February 2015, as the company reported record losses and shrunk its business.

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