Noble Group set to close its London oil desk: report

Noble Group
Noble Group Logo. Reuters

Embattled commodities trader Noble Group is closing down its London oil desk and winding down its Asia oil operations, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The news of the closures comes following heavy losses and increasing debt levels at Noble, which was once Asia's biggest commodities trader.

"That (U.S. oil business) comprised the material share of Noble's oil business. The rest ... has either closed or is in the final process of sale," the report said, citing sources familiar with the matter .

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Noble sold its North American oil business to Vitol, the world's largest oil trader, for about $580 million last year.

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.

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

In November last year, the company announced the surprise departure of its co-Chief Executive Jeff Frase, just days after it reported a third-quarter loss of $1.17 billion and warned that the operating environment remains challenging.

Noble Group shares were unchanged at S$0.22 on the Singapore Exchange. The trader's market capitalization, which once topped $10 billion, has shrunk to $278 million.

This article was first published on January 10, 2018