SINGAPORE (Apr 30): Noble Group’s dissident shareholder Goldilocks Investment Co. listed a raft of hedge funds and banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG, as defendants in its legal battle against the commodity trader, as the fund presses on with a bid to stop its debt-for-equity swap.

Goldilocks last week initiated legal action in Singapore’s High Court against Noble, seeking to halt the restructure and block any attempt to move the trader’s main interests to the UK According to a court summons seen by Bloomberg, the Abu Dhabi-based fund listed Noble and its directors as defendants, as well as the hedge funds and banks that it says are the creditors supporting the planned rescue.

The defendants include Goldman Sachs (Asia), Deutsche Bank AG, ING Bank, as well as Taconic Capital Advisors, Davidson Kempner Capital Management, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, Strategic Value Partners, BFAM Partners (Hong Kong), Varde Partners Asia Pte, Arkkan Capital Management, Cowell & Lee Advisors and Attestor Capital.

After years of crisis marked by billions in losses and a default, Noble’s battle for survival has descended into legal fights and public sparring between the company, its creditors and Goldilocks, which is fighting the rescue, saying it’s unfair on shareholders. Houlihan Lokey Inc., which is acting for the ad hoc group of creditors backing the proposal, has said the deal is only viable option.

Founder’s support
At present, more than 80% of senior creditors support the deal, which will see about half of the US$3.4 billion ($4.5 billion) debt burden written off, as does top shareholder and founder Richard Elman.

Under the proposal, existing shareholders would get 15% in a new company, which Goldilocks says is too small. It’s also raised concerns about the company’s management and their actions in recent months as the rescue plan has come together.

In a separate case heard on Friday, the court approved Goldilocks’ request for an injunction to stop Noble from holding its annual general meeting, scheduled for April 30, but didn’t restrain the company from holding future special general meetings. Noble has said it will go ahead with such a meeting on Monday to approve a vessel disposal. The AGM will be opened, then adjourned.

Representatives from ING, Taconic, Davidson Kempner, Varde, Strategic Value, Attestor and Cowell & Lee were yet to respond to requests for comment, some of which were made outside usual business hours. Deutsche Bank, Goldman, BFAM, Arkkan and Och-Ziff declined to comment. Nobody answered calls to Houlihan Lokey’s media advisers in Asia and an external representative for Noble couldn’t immediately comment.

The claims by Goldilocks “are an intentional attempt to obfuscate, delay, derail and/or prevent the implementation of the restructuring,” Noble said in a statement on Thursday. “The company and its directors will vigorously defend each of the claims and, at the appropriate time, seek costs orders.”

Last week, creditors backing the restructure warned time is fast running out to get the deal through, saying it’s the sole option to save the trader. Houlihan Lokey hasn’t identified the members of the ad hoc group it represents.

Noble Group’s shares in Singapore capped another weekly loss before being suspended on Friday after the court’s decision on the AGM. On Monday trade restarted, and the stock opened unchanged at 8.7 cents.