Noble leads gains in Singapore market; LionGold plunges

SINGAPORE, April 3 Thu Apr 3, 2014 2:04am EDT

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SINGAPORE, April 3 (Reuters) - Noble Group Ltd shares extended gains on Thursday, jumping as much as 5.2 percent, after China's largest grain trader COFCO Corp agreed to pay $1.5 billion for a majority stake in the Singapore-listed commodities firm's agribusiness.

The company's shares hit an intra-day high of S$1.32, the highest since October 2012. The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 0.8 percent, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 percent.

DBS Vickers said the deal is positive for Noble and upgraded the stock to "buy" and raised its target price to S$1.53 from S$1.09.

"This is consistent with Noble's asset-light strategy, enabling capital recycling to enhance shareholders' returns and allowing Noble to channel focus to its more profitable Energy and Metals, Minerals and Ores segments," DBS said.

Shares of LionGold Corp plunged as much as 16.9 percent after the company said two of its executives were being investigated by Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department.

Share prices of LionGold, Blumont Group Ltd and Asiasons Ltd crashed last October, wiping out around S$8 billion ($6.35 billion) in market value in just two days after huge run-ups.

(Reporting by Andrew Toh; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

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