April 29, 2018 / 2:33 PM / 7 months ago

Noble Group to set date for shareholders to approve debt restructuring

SINGAPORE, April 29 (Reuters) - Noble Group will set a date for a special meeting to seek shareholder approval for a $3.4 billion debt restructuring after a Singapore court blocked its scheduled annual meeting following legal action by a dissident shareholder.

In a statement on Sunday, the Singapore-listed commodity trader said Friday’s court order does not restrict it from holding any special general meeting.

Noble will go ahead with seeking shareholders’ approval on Monday for the disposal of a ship but the annual general meeting (AGM) for the same day has been cancelled.

Goldilocks, the trader’s third-largest shareholder, sought to halt the AGM after Noble rejected its nominations for five new directors to Noble’s board. Noble had said the paperwork was not valid.

Goldilocks is opposing Noble’s restructuring plan as protecting creditors at the expense of shareholders.

Noble said on Sunday it expects to submit to the Singapore Exchange soon a draft shareholder circular related to the restructuring special general meeting.

It said it “looks forward to being in a position to publishing the notice of meeting and final shareholder circular in the near future.”

Noble says the restructuring plan, which has the backing of over 83 percent of its senior creditors, will benefit all stakeholders and an insolvency is the only alternative if shareholders do not approve its proposal.

Once Asia’s largest commodity trader, Noble’s market value has plunged to just $88 million, from $6 billion in February 2015. The company has sold billions of dollars of assets, taken hefty writedowns and cut hundreds of jobs over the past three years to slash debt.

Abu Dhabi-based Goldilocks, which holds an 8.1 percent stake in Noble, filed lawsuits in Singapore last week, saying Noble is not recognising its “legitimate legal rights” as a shareholder.

Trading in Noble’s shares was halted on Friday afternoon pending an announcement from the company. (Reporting by Anshuman Daga Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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