SINGAPORE/LONDON (Reuters) - Three liquefied natural gas (LNG) traders at Asia's biggest commodity trade house, Noble Group Ltd, including two co-heads of the team, are leaving to join rival trader Glencore, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Noble and Glencore declined to comment. The sources said that Noble will continue to trade LNG, having restarted its London-based trading desk in 2014. Noble will still have about five people involved in the LNG business.
The departures come after a tough period at Noble. The company's shares have shed more than two-thirds of their value in the past year, after Iceberg Research alleged the company inflated its assets by billions of dollars by inaccurately representing the value of its contracts.
A slump in commodity markets also hit the firm. Noble has rejected the accusations of accounting irregularities.
Last month, Noble's executives said the company was taking measures to bolster its balance sheet. It has slashed capital expenditure on areas such as its non-ferrous metals business and sold its stake in its agribusiness unit.
LNG, however, has been an attractive area for commodity traders, as a wave of export projects planned over the past decade come to fruition, boosting supply and creating trading opportunities.
One of Noble's biggest LNG ventures has been its two-year supply deal into the burgeoning Egyptian market after the country launched two import terminals last year, enabling it to quickly become a significant buyer of the fuel.
Switzerland-headquartered Glencore noted last year that LNG offered growth opportunities for the trade house.
Two trade sources separately told Reuters that two LNG traders from Glencore had recently departed from the company. Glencore declined to comment on the departures.
Reporting by Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE and Sarah McFarlane in LONDON; Editing by Alison Williams