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Goldilocks says Noble's response "appears designed" to discredit its major shareholder

NOBLE Group's spat with one of its major shareholders continued on Thursday as Goldilocks Investment Company denied that it made demands for two board seats as a pre-condition to any restructuring or financial proposals.

Noble's suggestion that Goldilocks took advantage of its financial situation to do so is "misleading", the Abu Dhabi-based fund said in a statement.

"This takes one exchange through the backdrop of months of discussions (since June 2017) between Noble and Goldilocks out of context," it said.

The announcement by Noble on Wednesday - refuting the allegations made by Goldilocks in its letter to Singapore regulators earlier this week - has omitted the full circumstances of the exchanges.

It "appears designed" to pit Goldilocks against shareholders and other creditors, to detract from the concerns that it has raised, and to discredit the fund, said Goldilocks.

The fund, managed by a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Financial Group, owns 8.1 per of Noble. It acquired its interest in Noble through two market transactions in July last year.

Noble said in its announcement that Goldilocks had made it a pre-condition to be granted two board seats before any detailed talks over potential restructuring or investment options.

"The board's nomination committee met to consider this request and was not comfortable acceding to this request, for corporate governance reasons. This was carefully explained to Goldilocks," said Noble.

Goldilocks said that it had requested for two board seats on Oct 11 last year because it wanted to ensure transparency, to protect the rights of equity holders, and to consider the long-term survival of Noble.

"Goldilocks believes in the immutable obligation on management to be accountable and transparent with shareholders," it said. "Given Noble's financial situation and track record, such a request for board representation by a substantial shareholder, which was in 'private engagements' with Noble to assist, was and is not unreasonable."

The fund added that it is unable to comment or elaborate further on the full circumstances around these earlier engagements with Noble due to certain non-disclosure arrangements.

But it has written formally to Noble to seek its confirmation that it will waive these arrangements, so that Goldilocks may be able to present a complete picture.

It will provide a further update if and when it receives Noble's response.

Noble declined to comment on Goldilocks' latest statement. The firm on Wednesday said that it would issue a detailed announcement to address Goldilocks' allegations "in due course".

Its shares closed at 24 Singapore cents on Thursday, down one Singapore cent or 4 per cent.

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