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UPDATE 1-Noble Group says still talking with potential strategic parties
May 24, 2017 / 2:18 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Noble Group says still talking with potential strategic parties

* Noble says mandated banks to review strategic alternatives

* Shares fall 11 pct in early trade (Adds comment from company, stock move)

SINGAPORE, May 24 (Reuters) - Struggling commodity trader Noble Group Ltd said on Wednesday it was still in discussions with various potential strategic parties as it sought to regain market confidence, but its shares fell 11 percent in early trade.

Sources have told Reuters that China’s state-owned Sinochem is no longer pursuing an investment in Noble due to concerns over its finances and business outlook - a development that came after Noble reported a shock quarterly loss and said it would not be profitable for the next two years.

Pain for the Singapore-listed firm was exacerbated with S&P Global Ratings’ slashing of its corporate credit ratings by three notches deeper into junk territory and a warning that it might not be able to pay its debt.

“The company has previously announced it is in talks with various potential strategic parties... Such discussions are ongoing,” Noble said in its statement.

It also said it has mandated Moelis & Company and Morgan Stanley to review strategic alternatives and is continuing to evaluate further asset sales.

Referrring to the Reuters article on Sinochem, Noble said it indicated the reasons for any transaction not proceeding were commercial reasons about Noble, but “Noble is not aware of any reason that would confirm what the article reports.”

Noble’s stock fell by 11 percent to S$0.375 on Wednesday, with trade resuming after the company asked for a halt on Tuesday when the stock dropped as much as 32 percent in heavy volume.

Noble has struggled ever since Iceberg Research questioned its accounts in early 2015 which came in tandem with a brutal downturn in commodity markets. The company has stood by its accounts.

The combined impact has been a collapse of its share price, credit downgrades, management upheavals and a series of writedowns, asset sales and fundraising. Noble’s market value has shrunk to $354 million currently from $6 billion in February 2015. (Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Miyoung Kim; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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