Noble shrinks, sells part of business to Mercuria as it faces huge quarterly loss

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Noble Group (NOBG.SI), once Asia’s largest commodities trader, is to cut staff and sell assets, including its U.S. gas and power business to Mercuria Energy Group, as it faces a quarterly loss of up to $1.8 billion. Hong Kong-based Noble added that it would “explore strategic alliances in Asia” with Mercuria after establishing some initial links with the Swiss trader’s Asian affiliates. Noble announced on Wednesday the plans to sell its U.S. gas and power business to Mercuria for $248 million and has also put its capital-intensive oil liquids business up for sale, leaving it focused on “hard commodities”, essentially coal. Singapore-listed Noble has struggled to repair investor confidence following setbacks over the past two years: first blogger Iceberg Research questioned its accounts in early 2015, and then it was hit by a sharp commodity market downturn. The company has stood by its accounts. But the upheaval meant a collapsing share price, credit downgrades, management changes and asset sales. Noble’s market value has shrunk to $554 million, from $6 billion in February 2015. Wednesday’s announcement marks Noble’s latest move to restructure to help it repay debt and keep trading. It also announced an up-to-$1 billion disposal plan

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