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Hot stock: Noble surges on rumours of stake interest from Sinochem
RUMOURS that China's state-owned oil, gas and petrochemicals company Sinochem is interested in buying an equity stake in Noble Group sent the commodity trader's shares surging by as much as 17 per cent in Tuesday morning's trading.
At 10.25am, Noble shares were up 14.2 per cent at 22.5 cents apiece, after 274.7 million shares were traded.
Reuters had on Monday evening cited sources saying that Sinochem is in early talks with Noble to buy an equity stake in the embattled trader to gain access to its global supply chain.
Noble issued a clarification note on Tuesday, saying it is "currently engaged in discussions regarding a possible strategic investment in Noble Group".
"However, no binding arrangements have as yet been entered into with respect to this possible transaction and, accordingly, there can be no assurance that this transaction will be concluded," it added.
According to the Reuters report, senior Noble executives visited China in recent months to hold talks with Sinochem's management, and both sides also met at Noble's US regional hub in Stamford, Connecticut.
Noble currently has the backing of Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp (CIC), which participated in the company's rights issue last year.
CIC owns a 9.6 per cent stake in Noble, while Noble chairman Richard Elman holds a stake of about 18 per cent.
Hong Kong-headquartered Noble was the subject of several downgrades by credit rating agencies that made it lose its investment-grade rating last year, after being attacked by little-known Iceberg Research on its allegedly aggressive accounting practices.
It had in November said it has met its capital-raising target of US$2 billion as it had sold assets, completed a rights issue and restructured its operations.