SINGAPORE (Aug 27): Shares in debt-laden commodities supplier Noble Group were up 33.9% in the week before a key vote on its restructuring. The Straits Times Index had gained 1.3% in the same period. Noble’s rebound may have been driven by Deutsche Bank’s offer to buy the company’s senior unsecured bonds at 45% of face value. Noble is currently in default of debt obligations worth US$3.5 billion ($4.8 billion), and in the absence of a successful restructuring will be required to seek insolvency protection or go into liquidation.

Investors may see Deutsche Bank’s offer as a sign that the bank is confident of a Noble recovery. But, the bank is serving its own interest in supporting a plan that would turn Noble around. Deutsche Bank already has some senior claims on Noble and is among the parties that have agreed to underwrite additional financing for a restructured Noble. In March, Deutsche Bank joined an ad hoc group in signing a restructuring support agreement that provides for a three-year committed US$600 million in trade finance and a US$100 million hedging facility.

Deutsche Bank’s support comes amid strong criticism of Noble’s management as well as the restructuring plan. On Aug 14, Iceberg Research, helmed by former Noble employee Arnaud Vagner, called for those holding Noble shares, bonds and perpetuals to join in a suit against Noble’s managers and the parties responsible for the value destruction at Noble. Iceberg says it has talked to experienced law firms that are ready to represent the interests of these investors, and litigation funders that are interested in financing these lawsuits.

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