The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Noble Group Ltd. posted the first an­nual loss in al­most two decades as Asia's largest com­mod­ity trader wrote down the value of as­sets amid tum­bling raw ma­te­rial prices in­clud­ing coal and sold an agri­cul­tural-unit stake for less than the as­set was val­ued on its books. The net loss was $1.7 bil­lion last year com­pared with profit of $132 mil­lion in 2014, Hong Kong-based Noble Group said on Thurs­day, two days af­ter the com­pany warned of $1.2 bil­lion in im­pair­ments. Rev­enue dropped 22 per­cent to $66.7 bil­lion last year, fall­ing short of the me­dian es­ti­mate of $74.2 bil­lion of nine an­a­lysts sur­veyed by Bloomberg. The full-year loss fol­lows a tur­bu­lent 12 months for the trader that saw its shares col­lapse and debt rat­ing cut to junk by two rat­ings agen­cies. Noble Group has been ham­mered by the com­modi­ties plunge and crit­i­cisms of its ac­count­ing -- all re­futed by the Sin­ga­pore-listed com­pany -- that in­cluded the val­u­a­tions of its long-term con­tracts. The com­pany said on Thurs­day be­fore the earn­ings that the deal to sell its stake in Noble Agri Ltd. would be com­pleted next month with the pay­ment of $750 mil­lion. "Now that the dis­posal of our re­main­ing in­ter­est in Noble Agri has be­come wholly un­con­di­tional, our repo­si­tion­ing ini­tia­tives are largely fin­ished," Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Yusuf Alireza said in a state­ment. "The im­mi­nent re­ceipt of $750 mil­lion from the agri sale adds to our flex­i­bil­ity and, with the ex­pected suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the re fi­nanc­ing of our re­volver, we look for­ward to gen­er­at­ing the re­turns that we know the 'New Noble' is fully ca­pa­ble of." Noble Group's shares fell 1.5 per­cent to 33.5 Sin­ga­pore cents on Thurs­day be­fore the earn­ings state­ment. The stock, which was the worst per­former on the bench­mark Straits Times In­dex in 2015, has dropped 68 per­cent over the past 12 months, leav­ing the com­pany with a mar­ket value of S$2.19 bil­lion ($1.56 bil­lion).

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