Noble’s shareholders back company’s bid to salvage itself

Billions in losses and claims of improper accounting pushed commodity trader to the brink

The $3.5bn restructuring was approved by 99.96 per cent of votes cast at a special general meeting in Singapore, according to figures from Noble. Photograph:  Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

The $3.5bn restructuring was approved by 99.96 per cent of votes cast at a special general meeting in Singapore, according to figures from Noble. Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

 

Noble Group’s shareholders have endured years of torment as a default, billions in losses, and allegations of improper accounting pushed the commodity trader to the brink. After a 90-minute meeting Monday, they backed the company’s bid to salvage itself.

The $3.5 billion debt-for-equity restructuring, which will hand control to senior creditors, was approved by 99.96 per cent of votes cast at a special general meeting in Singapore, according to figures from the company. Before the session, the trader had said about a third of its shareholders, including founder Richard Elman, were already committed to the rescue.

Final stages

The vote will enable Noble – which has consistently rejected criticism of its accounts – to press on with the deal’s final stages. The plan to create a “New Noble” had been the subject of a heated dispute between chairman Paul Brough and shareholder Goldilocks Investment before its terms were amended and the two forged an agreement after facing off in court. The trader still faces opposition from foe Iceberg Research, which wants to halt the deal.

“We are now moving into the final phase of the restructuring,” Mr Brough told investors before the vote. – Bloomberg