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Update: Shares of Noble gain ahead of AGM on Friday

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Shares of Noble Group gained on heavy volume in early morning trade on Friday, ahead of its annual shareholders' meeting at 10am on the same day.

SHARES of Noble Group gained on heavy volume in early morning trade on Friday, ahead of its annual shareholders' meeting at 10am on the same day.

The stock was up one Singapore cent, or 1.1 per cent, to 88.5 Singapore cents. It was among the most actively traded stocks in the first 15 minutes of trading.

The commodities firm has come under heavy criticism by little-known research firm Iceberg Research. Short seller Muddy Waters, which also took aim at another Singapore-listed commodities firm Olam International, has also disclosed that it holds short positions in Noble.

Iceberg this week launched another salvo of questions aimed at Noble Group on its website. In its list of 15 questions, the research firm continued to press for more information over Australian-listed mining firm Yancoal, in which Noble holds a 13 per cent stake.

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It also sought more details of recent changes in the head of risks.

In the presentation slides for the shareholders' meeting - circulated via a regulatory filing on Friday morning - Noble made no direct mention of Iceberg. In a slide relating to impairments, it said that the amounts are "based on conservative assumptions, taking into accounting the continued decline in prices and the downward revision of forward price curves". Noble has already written off US$200 million worth of impairments from Yancoal, but said that the Yancoal write-off, which nearly halved its full-year net profit last year, was not linked to Iceberg’s allegations of inflated assets. Iceberg has said in response that the more write-offs will be needed.

Noble added that as part of its governance and accounting standards, it has "clear controls in place to ensure accuracy, appropriateness and independence of valuation".  

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