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Fitch puts Noble on ratings watch

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THE last remaining credit rating agency with whom Noble Group still enjoys an investment grade rating might now be changing its mind.

THE last remaining credit rating agency with whom Noble Group still enjoys an investment grade rating might now be changing its mind.

Fitch Rating on Friday said it was placing the largest commodity trader in Asia on a negative rating watch, as Noble turns to shorter-term and secured financing to reduce financing costs.

"This will increase the risk profile of the company, reduce its financial flexibility and potentially put strain on its senior unsecured debt level," said Fitch.

Noble, which has adopted an asset-light strategy over the past few years, plans to move from using long-term debt to cheaper short-term, secured funding, to align its debt structure with its assets.

The other two rating agencies, Standard & Poor's and Moody's, had in January cut Noble's credit rating to "junk". Fitch then said it believes Noble's additional liquidity after the sale of its agriculture unit will help it manage increased collateral requirements.

Noble's shares fell 4.7 per cent, or 2 cents, to 40.5 Singapore cents amid a broader market retreat.