Debt-laden Noble buys stake in Australia's Symbol Mining for A$375,000

The company logo of Noble Group is displayed at its office in Hong Kong, China. REUTERS

Embattled commodities trader Noble Group on Friday said its unit, Noble Resources International, bought about 19 percent stake in Australia-based Symbol Mining for A$375,000.

Symbol is a mineral exploration company focused on the development and commercialisation of high-grade base metals projects located in Nigeria.

Noble Resources International has been providing debt funding to a subsidiary of Symbol for development of its exploration licences and providing support for potential sales and marketing strategy since 2015, Noble said in a regulatory filing.The Symbol new shares were issued to Noble Resources at A$0.04 per share in satisfaction of a debt of about US$2.8 million.

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In addition, Noble Resources has subscribed for 9.4 million additional new ordinary shares in the capital of Symbol, resulting in a stake of 18.82 percent, it said.

The deal comes as parent Noble Group tries to tackle its burgeoning debt.

Noble Group on Wednesday said lenders agreed to extend the waiver for its $1.1 billion revolving credit facility until May 18 as it continued talking to creditors about a restructuring.

Once Asia's largest commodity trader, Noble's decline since 2015 has been marked by losses, concern it won't pay its debt and claims from long-time foe Iceberg Research including that it inflated the value of some contracts.

The Hong Kong-based firm, which is in talks with investors to address its deteriorating financial position, has been forced to shrink its business, exiting loss-making and non-core operations in order to survive.

Last week, its shareholders approved the company's pending sale of its North American oil business to Vitol U.S. Holdings about $580 million.

Noble Group shares ended down 8.2 percent at S$0.23 on the Singapore Exchange on Friday. The trader's market capitalization, which once topped $10 billion, has shrunk to $290 million.

This article was first published on December 22, 2017