Noble Group posts $6.5b annual loss, focuses on debt restructuring

Struggling commodities trader Noble Group plunged to an annual loss of US$4.9 billion (S$6.5 billion), mainly due to non-cash losses on derivatives contracts and said it was still holding talks on its US$3.4 billion debt restructuring deal.

The restructuring is crucial for the survival of the Singapore-listed company, which has sold billions of dollars of assets, taken write-downs and cut hundreds of jobs over the past three years to slash debt.

"Restructuring discussions with stakeholders continue to be productive as the group moves towards launching the restructuring support agreement for the holders of the existing senior debt instruments," Noble said in a statement.

The company is seeking to halve its senior debt and in return give senior creditors 70 per cent of the company, while existing equity holders will be diluted to 10 per cent.

But the restructuring plan is facing resistance from some shareholders and bond holders.

Noble reported a net loss of US$4.9 billion for the year ending 2017 versus a net profit of US$8.7 million a year ago.

Last week, Noble flagged a record annual loss of US$4.78 billion to US$4.98 billion.

In the statement yesterday, it said group tonnage and revenue, in its continuing operations, fell 28 per cent and 21 per cent respectively from last year, "given the challenging operating environment resulting from the constraints of availability of trade finance and liquidity".

Founded in 1986 by Mr Richard Elman, who rode a commodities bull run to build one of the world's biggest trade houses, Noble was plunged into crisis in February 2015 when Iceberg Research questioned its books. Noble has defended its accounting.

Noble's market value has fallen to US$228 million from US$6 billion in 2015. - REUTERS