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[HONG KONG] Noble Group Ltd, the embattled commodities trader, faces several significant deadlines as it wrestles with a US$3.5 billion debt restructuring.
Once Asia's largest commodity trader, Noble's decline since 2015 has been marked by losses, concern it won't be able to pay its debt and accusations from long-time foe Iceberg Research that it inflated the value of some contracts. The next few weeks will be crucial, as Noble looks to push its debt restructuring through.
One focus is Dec 20. Lenders had agreed to waive certain rights under terms Noble committed to for its US$1.1 billion revolving credit facility until that day. That means the company may need to reach a deal with creditors by then to avoid a default, or seek another extension.
The company met with creditors in Hong Kong on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter. The meeting follows talks that started two weeks ago in London and continued last week in Hong Kong, and was to allow creditors to do further due diligence on the sustainability of the company's operations, one of the people said.
"If Noble's revolving credit facility lenders don't extend the covenant waiver, it will be a technical default on the facility," said Annisa Lee, head of Asia ex-Japan flow credit analysis at Nomura International (HK) Ltd. "That could trigger a cross default on the bonds. If that happens, Noble faces the possibility of going into liquidation, or a debt restructuring, depending on what creditors decide."
Noble's external media representative couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Here are the deadlines to watch in coming months: