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Noble Group surges as chairman pledges to 'right the damage'

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 19:54
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Noble Group Ltd jumped by the most since September 2013, climbing from a six-year low, after the commodity trader's founder pledged in a letter to shareholders to "right the damage."

[SINGAPORE] Noble Group Ltd jumped by the most since September 2013, climbing from a six-year low, after the commodity trader's founder pledged in a letter to shareholders to "right the damage."

Noble surged as much as 11 per cent before ending 9.3 per cent higher at 70.5 Singapore cents by the close of trading in Singapore.

The stock slumped 43 per cent this year through Wednesday as brokerages downgraded recommendations and lowered price targets after previously unknown firm Iceberg Research questioned the company's accounting practices. Muddy Waters LLC said in April it had taken short positions on the stock.

"We will right the damage and will use all our best efforts to recover the share value," Chairman Richard Elman said in a letter sent to Noble shareholders Thursday. "There have been a lot of rumors, gossip, inaccurate statements and commentary from people who have nothing to do with Noble and probably do not even know what we do."

Noble fell 19 per cent in June through Wednesday, when it closed at the lowest since January 2009. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp cut its share-price target to 61 Singapore cents from S$1.05 Thursday, saying it will take time before the company regains the market's confidence.

"We have been working vigorously behind the scenes to protect your interests and we are starting to make progress," Elman wrote in the letter. "This is not the first time this has happened and, as you all well know, we have always fought our way back."

After the Singapore stock market closed, Standard & Poor's Investor Services revised Noble's credit rating outlook to negative from stable, citing the commodity trader's higher earnings volatility due to "growth in fair value gains" from the company's long-term contracts.

The agency maintained Noble's credit rating at BBB-, its lowest rung of investment grade. The change in outlook signals the possibility S&P could downgrade Noble to speculative grade.

In an e-mailed statement after the S&P action, Noble said it "will be working to meet certain criteria over the next 9-12 months to address the outlook revision".

BLOOMBERG