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Sinochem in talks to take a stake in Noble Group

State-run Sinochem is in talks to take a stake in troubled commodities giant Noble Group. While not mentioning the Chinese outfit by name, Hong Kong-based Noble admitted in a release today that it is in talks over a strategic investment. Shares in Noble Group in Singapore leapt today by as much as 17% on the news to hit eight-month highs.

Sinochem’s new chairman Frank Ning has a history of targeting Noble assets. As chairman of state-owned food and grain firm Cofco until last January, he led the two-stage purchase of Noble’s agricultural-trading business for about $2.25bn in 2014 and 2016.

China’s sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp already holds a 9.6% stake in Noble.
Noble has been hit hard in recent years by the commodities downturn and repeated allegations of not filing its results correctly. Its founder Richard Elman has already announced plans to retire as chairman, likely by the end of the next quarter.

Both Noble and Sinochem have struggled to make decent profits in recent years, leading one columnist to quip on Bloomberg today: “It’s Valentine’s Day, so it’s no surprise that even the ugliest ducklings in the corporate world are hoping to find love.”

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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