Noble Group flags refinancing on track after first loss in 2 decades

Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:42am EST
 
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By Rujun Shen and Anshuman Daga

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore-listed commodity trader Noble Group NOBG.SI expects to refinance its debt ahead of schedule, after reporting its first annual loss in nearly 20 years on Thursday, battered by a $1.2 billion writedown for weak coal prices.

Noble, one of the biggest traders of commodities from coal to iron ore to oil, is battling to boost investor confidence after Standard & Poor's and Moody's cut its investment grade ratings to junk in December, following a bruising accounting dispute and weak markets.

"We have self-evidently advanced our key strategic objectives over the last three years despite a very difficult external environment," CEO Yusuf Alireza, who has fought back by selling assets, cutting business units and trimming debt, said in a statement. (bit.ly/1VGhqwZ)

Noble's junk rating has stoked concerns about its refinancing ability but Alireza, a former Goldman Sachs banker said it expects to close its refinancing ahead of a May due date.

"We have $2.2 billion of a revolver. Clearly we have approved the term sheet to a number of our core banks and we will be moving towards the refinancing of the revolver," said Alireza, who was asked about the spreads and size of the refinancing by analysts in a call, but declined to give details.

The company highlighted the imminent receipt of $750 million from the sale of its agri business.

On Thursday, Noble reported an annual loss of $1.67 billion after the non-cash impairment charge, versus a profit of $132 million a year ago on a 22 percent fall in revenue. It proposed no dividend for last year.

The company had warned of the full-year loss two days ago.   Continued...

 
The company logo of Noble Group is displayed at its office in Hong Kong, China January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip