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Moody's reviews Noble Group for possible ratings downgrade

[LONDON] Ratings agency Moody's is reviewing its rating of Singapore-listed commodity trader Noble Group for a potential downgrade in light of the company's latest results.

Noble reported a sharp fall in third-quarter profit on Thursday, battered by losses in its metals and agricultural operations. "The rating review is triggered by Noble's weaker than expected liquidity profile and its still-high leverage in its quarterly results announcement," Joe Morrison, a Moody's vice-president and senior credit officer.

Moody's said that key to the results of the review over the next two to three months will be Noble's ability to improve its liquidity and cashflow generation, along with progress on plans to raise capital and reduce debt.

Noble's curent Moody's rating is Baa3. The ratings agency changed Noble's outlook to negative from stable in August.

Already grappling with a commodity price rout, Noble's shares have shed nearly 60 per cent since mid-February when blogger Iceberg Research alleged that the company was inflating its assets by billions of dollars by not fairly representing the value of its commodity contracts.

Noble rejected the claims and board-appointed consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers found no wrongdoing in a report published in August.