Noble Group founder declines executive director role in restructured firm

FILE PHOTO: Noble Group founder and Chairman Richard Elman poses at his office in Hong Kong, China January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

SINGAPORE/BENGALURU (Reuters) - Embattled commodity trader Noble Group Ltd NOBG.SI said on Monday that its founder, Richard Elman, will not take up a previously announced position as an executive director in the restructured company, citing "personal reasons".

Once Asia’s largest commodity trader, Noble has shrunk its business after selling billions of dollars of assets, taking hefty writedowns and cutting hundreds of jobs. Its restructuring plan - crucial to its survival - gained ground last month when it won over a key shareholder with a sweetened equity offer.

The announcement of Elman’s decision not to join the board was made in a statement to the Singapore Exchange.

Elman is Noble’s former chairman and controls nearly 18 percent of the equity in the current company. In April, he backed a proposed $3.5 billion debt-to-equity swap that would restructure the company after it improved the terms and announced a board seat for him in the new firm.

Elman’s backing occurred less than a month after he resigned from Noble’s board, citing “amicable differences” with the board and a group of senior creditors negotiating the restructuring.

The make-or-break vote on restructuring will take place on Aug. 27.

The company said it has already won support from 86 percent of its senior creditors and about 30 percent of its shareholders, including Elman, have committed to back the proposed restructuring.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE and Susan Mathew in BENGALURU; Editing by Christian Schmollinger