Suitors circle Noble after commodity trader’s US$1.8b market plunge, BusinessTimes 20 March 2015

Noble gap up as of now..

20 Mar8:08 AM

[SINGAPORE] Singapore-listed Noble Group’s 30 per cent share-slump over the past month has thrust it onto the radar screens of Asian companies that want a bigger clout in global commodities trading, people familiar with the matter said.

Chinese and Japanese companies have held informal talks with investment banks about potentially making approaches to Hong Kong-headquartered Noble, a Singapore-based banker aware of the matter told Reuters, even though founder and top shareholder Richard Elman has been keen on the group staying independent.

Noble’s market value has shrunk by US$1.8 billion since little-known Iceberg Research accused it in mid-February of inflating asset values by billions of dollars through aggressive accounting. Noble has rejected the claim and linked Iceberg to an employee it fired in 2013.

Large companies that control the supply chain in raw materials such as Noble appeal to Chinese and Japanese firms that are looking to increase their pricing power and control costs in the commodities industry. “The stock slump is flushing out buyers,” said the banker.”Noble has been very focused on staying independent but it’s hard to see it staying that way now after the price fall and accounting issues,” he said.

The banker declined to name the potential suitors as the talks were confidential. Other M&A bankers who have worked with Chinese state-owned companies mentioned China Minmetals Corp, Brightoil Petroleum (Holdings) Ltd and Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings as potentially interested parties in acquiring Noble.

Bankers cautioned though that there were no active discussions between Noble and potential suitors and it was unclear whether any interested parties would actually proceed with a proposal.



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