Noble’s Relisting Plans Face a Hurdle

Illustration; Image Courtesy: Pxhere under CC 2.0 license

Singapore authorities have decided to block a restructuring plan of Noble Group Limited (NGL) by not allowing the commodity trader to transfer its listing status to New Noble.

This was announced in a joint statement issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore Police Force and Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX Regco).

As explained, the decision follows “a careful review” of the findings to-date from the ongoing investigations into NGL and Noble Resources International (NRI) by MAS, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force, and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

“MAS and SGX RegCo have concluded that there are significant uncertainties about the financial position of New Noble,” the parties said.

“It would be imprudent to allow the re-listing as investors will not be able to trade in New Noble’s shares on an informed basis,” they pointed out.

Reacting on the above decision, NGL said it “intends to stake steps to preserve value for stakeholders, including through implementation of the restructuring by an alternative process.”

Noble, once the biggest Asian commodity company, has seen its stock price fall since 2015 after Iceberg Research started questioning Noble’s accounts. Noble was accused of fraudulent behavior as it allegedly overvalued its assets and underreported debt. In order to ensure its survival, Noble has been disposing of its assets and reducing its workforce.

Last month, Singapore authorities said they were investigating suspected false and misleading statements and breaches of disclosure requirements under the Securities and Futures Act by Noble.

What is more, the authorities also investigated potential non-compliance with accounting standards by Noble’s subsidiary NRI.

On December 6, the authorities said they have been carefully reviewing since 2015 the allegations raised by various parties against NGL and following up on information and leads provided.

Notwithstanding the clean audit opinions issued by NGL’s statutory auditors for financial years 2014, 2015 and 2016, the authorities continued to gather and review information. This included information relating to the substantial write-downs that were announced by NGL in late 2017 and early 2018.

The review of this and other information provided the basis for authorities to commence overt investigations into potential breaches of Singapore’s laws, according to the authorities.

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