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Noble’s Elman dismisses resignation calls

Hong Kong: Richard Elman, chairman and founder of Hong Kong-based commodities giant, Noble Group, has dismissed calls for his resignation in an exclusive interview with Splash.

Noble Group was forced today to issue an open letter condemning the pronouncements of a one of its many critics. Michael Dee, formerly Morgan Stanley’s CEO for Southeast Asia, and a senior managing director of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings, has joined a growing number of people calling for change at the Singapore-listed firm. Dee claimed Noble has overvalued Australian miner Yancoal on its balance sheet. Dee also claimed Noble has off-balance sheet repos and that founder and chairman of the company, Elman, should resign.

Yusuf Alireza, CEO of Noble Group, issued an open letter response to the criticism writing, “[Y]our recent call for the resignation of our Founder and Chairman is a step too far.”
Alireza refuted all the claims made by Dee, noting that much of the speculation for the accusations had come from the Hong Kong outfit Iceberg Research, an outfit created by a former Noble employee who is now being taken to court by his former employers.

When contacted by Splash on his future, Elman, 75, said: “I have no plan when I will change my position as chairman of Noble.” He dismissed the recent damaging negative reports about his company as the work of a disgruntled former Noble executive. “Some ex-employee started the nonsense,” Elman said.

Dee has in turn already replied to the open letter from Noble’s CEO in which he noted over the last five years $1 invested in the Dow is now worth four times that of the same $1 invested in Noble. “The company is in decline, it’s credibility in tatters, it’s stock down 40% in months. This is under [Elman’s] leadership. He is 75 and 80% of the company is owned by others not named Elman. It is time to move on and get a new Chairman and Auditor,” Dee wrote.

Elman, who famously was a scrap metal barrow boy in the East End of London, built Noble Group from three people and $100,000 of capital to a company that now employs 15,000 people and now has revenues of approximately $100bn.

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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