SINGAPORE (Apr 27): A Singapore court blocked commodity trader Noble Group from holding its annual meeting of shareholders' on Monday, in response to legal action taken by dissident shareholder Goldilocks Investment Co.

The move is a blow to Singapore-listed Noble, which is in the midst of a crucial debt restructuring process and has said it plans to hold a special meeting of its shareholders' after its annual general meeting.

"The judge decided that Noble be restrained from proceeding with the AGM currently fixed for April 30," Suresh Nair, Singapore counsel representing Goldilocks, told Reuters on Friday.

Noble declined to comment but noted that it asked for trading in its shares to be halted on the Singapore bourse pending an announcement. The Singapore High Court could not immediately confirm the ruling.

Abu Dhabi-based Goldilocks, which has an 8.1% stake in Noble, filed lawsuits in Singapore this week, saying Noble is not recognising its "legitimate legal rights" as a shareholder and asked the Singapore High Court to block Monday's meeting.

Noble this week rejected Goldilocks' nomination of five directors to be proposed at the AGM, saying the paperwork was not valid.

Goldilocks is also seeking to prevent Noble, the company's board and supporting creditors from proceeding with its debt restructuring proposal.

Noble is pursuing a US$3.4 billion debt rescue plan - crucial for the survival of the company - which has sold billions of dollars of assets, taken hefty writedowns and cut hundreds of jobs over the past three years to slash debt.

Once Asia's largest commodity trader, Noble is seeking to halve its debt and in return hand over a 70 per cent equity stake in the restructured business to senior creditors, while existing shareholders will get a 15 per cent equity stake in the new company.

Goldilocks, which last month sued Noble and its management, alleging they had inflated its assets, opposes the restructuring plan as protecting creditors over shareholders.
Noble says Goldilocks' claims are without merit.