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Noble Group cut to junk at S&P following downgrade by Moody's

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Noble Group Ltd's credit-rating was reduced to junk by Standard & Poor's and placed on watch for further cuts, deepening the challenges facing Asia's top commodity trader as it seeks to sustain investors' faith amid the raw-materials rout and attacks on its accounting.

[LONDON] Noble Group Ltd's credit-rating was reduced to junk by Standard & Poor's and placed on watch for further cuts, deepening the challenges facing Asia's top commodity trader as it seeks to sustain investors' faith amid the raw-materials rout and attacks on its accounting.

The agency lowered Noble Group's local and foreign currency ratings to BB+ from BBB-, according to a statement Thursday.

The downgrade by S&P follows a similar move by Moody's Investors Service in the final week of December.

The downgrades will test chief executive officer Yusuf Alireza's view that while the investment-grade rating was desirable, it wasn't required for the business.

The cuts came even after Noble Group agreed to sell the remainder of its agricultural unit to China's Cofco Corp for at least US$750 million to bolster its finances and reduce debt.

Noble Group lost almost two-thirds of its value in 2015, making it the worst performer on Singapore's benchmark Straits Times index, after a year of attacks on its finances by critics including the anonymous Iceberg Research and short-seller Muddy Waters LLC.

Shares tumbled to the lowest since 2008 on Wednesday as the collapse in raw materials deepened.