SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Noble Group Ltd said this week’s resignation of its founder Richard Elman was due to “amicable differences” with the board and a group of senior creditors who are negotiating a debt restructuring that is crucial for its survival.
In a statement late on Friday, Noble said Elman had informed the commodities trader he had resigned due to “amicable differences of opinion with the board and the ad hoc group of creditors on the way forwards.”
The clarification, in response to a query from the Singapore bourse, comes days after Goldilocks, an Abu Dhabi Financial Group equity fund - a leading shareholder of Noble - filed a lawsuit in Singapore against the firm and some of its former and current senior executives, including Elman, alleging they inflated Noble’s assets.
Singapore-listed Noble said it planned to resist any and all allegations or claims made against it. This week, the company defaulted on a bond as it hammers out a debt-for-equity swap after selling billions of dollars of assets, taking hefty writedowns and cutting hundreds of jobs over the past three years. On Tuesday, Elman, 77, resigned as a non-executive director. He founded Noble in 1986 and then rode a commodities bull run to build it into one of the world’s biggest traders. However, it plunged into crisis in February 2015 when Iceberg Research questioned its books. Noble has stood by its accounting. Goldilocks has opposed the restructuring, which is also facing criticism from some bondholders.
Under the deal, Noble is seeking to halve its senior debt and hand over 70 percent of the restructured business to creditors. Noble’s market value has fallen to just $101 million, from $6 billion in February 2015, as the company reported record losses and shrunk its business.
Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Mark Potter