Noble's full-year net loss expected to be around $6.5 billion

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Full-year net loss for the group in 2017 could hit $6.5 billion

Noble Group has warned of a net loss surpassing the billion-dollar mark for the three months ended Dec 31 - the group's fourth consecutive quarterly net loss - and also for the full year.

In its profit guidance issued yesterday, it said it is expecting a fourth-quarter net loss in the range of US$1.7 billion to US$1.9 billion (S$2.2 billion to S$2.5 billion), bringing full-year net loss to between US$4.8 billion and US$5 billion (S$6.5 billion).

Noble's fourth-quarter loss will comprise an adjusted net loss from its continuing hard commodities, freight and LNG operations of between US$50 million and US$100 million; net loss from its discontinued global oil liquids and North American gas and power operations in the range of US$225 million to US$275 million; and exceptional items - including significant non-cash mark to market losses due to reserves and adjustments - that culminate in a loss of between US$1.45 billion and US$1.55 billion, Noble said.

This anticipated quarterly net loss will lead to a negative net asset position for the group.

However, the board believes that a proposed restructuring should "restore shareholders' equity and create a sustainable capital structure".

Separately, the commodity trader said it has also reached an in-principle agreement with the group's senior creditors, or "ad hoc group", and fronting bank ING for the provision of a three-year US$700 million trade finance facility.

The ad hoc group controls about 36 per cent of Noble's existing senior debt instruments.

Advisers of this ad hoc group are also in contact with creditors who hold an additional 15 per cent of Noble's existing senior debt instruments and have indicated their broad support for a restructuring of the group's liabilities, Noble said.

"Given the status of restructuring discussions with the ad hoc group... and the trade finance facilities presently provided by the group's banks, the board is, on balance and on the basis of legal advice, satisfied that the group can continue as a going concern, until such time as the restructuring is completed."

In November last year, the group reported a massive third-quarter loss of US$1.17 billion.

For the three months to September, revenue slipped 18 per cent to US$1.46 billion as the troubled Singapore-listed, Hong Kong-based firm shrunk its business, sold assets and continued to dispose of them to tackle debt.

Loss per share over the third quarter widened to 89.8 US cents from 2.93 US cents previously.

"Following a challenging 2017, we are looking forward to the final phase of our restructuring, and the creation of a new Noble as a focused and appropriately financed group set to capitalise on the high-growth Asian commodities sector," said Noble chairman Paul Brough in a statement yesterday.

The group's full-year financial results are due on Feb 28.

Noble shares yesterday inched up 0.1 cent to 19.7 cents.