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No more bull from Noble: Michael Dee

Singapore: One of the Noble Group’s most trenchant critics, Michael Dee, has hit back at the commodities trader’s claims to be more transparent by employing PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to look at how the Singapore-listed firm goes about its mark-to-market valuations.

Dee, formerly Morgan Stanley’s CEO for Southeast Asia, and a senior managing director of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings, even went so far as to lay down a bet with Noble today.

“If Noble releases the full Yancoal valuation model, used both before and after the recent $200m write-down, I will personally donate S$10,000 to Singapore Special Olympics in Noble’s name,” he wrote in a note.

Dee suspects that Yancoal’s valuation has been inflated when Noble has been filing its results to make the Hong Kong-based conglomerate’s financials look better than they actually are.

Yesterday Noble commissioned a third party review of its MTM models and valuations. An independent board committee consisting of four non-executive independent Noble boardmembers has appointed PwC to conduct an assurance review of Noble’s MTM models, valuations, and governance framework.

Dee, however, dismissed the move as a “PR exercise”, suggesting that the insider board committee should not in anyway be considered independent.

Dee reiterated his call for Richard Elman, the chairman and founder of Noble, to step down.

In concluding, Dee commented: “It’s high time for no bull from Noble.”

A former employee at Noble started issuing research reports on Noble’s accounting practices six months ago, having founded a firm called Iceberg Research, during which time the share price of the company has tanked 40%.

An analyst from Iceberg Research contacted Splash today to also denounce Noble’s accounting review.

The analyst, who gave his first name as Jonas, but declined to give his surname, claimed: “It is actually common for companies under attack for their doubtful accounting to launch a second review. But the members of the new audit committee are the same as the old audit committee. The scope of the review is not clearly defined. Unless PwC really challenges the valuations, it is useless.”

On Elman’s continued role at the top of the company, the Iceberg analyst said: “Mr Elman controls this company and its board. He will always refuse to resign until he is pushed out.”


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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