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Under fire Noble to slash 16% of workforce

Under fire commodity trader Noble Group looked to reassure investors by bringing out its Q2 results a few days early to staunch losses in its share price on the Singapore Exchange. By choosing a holiday to announce the results, the Hong Kong based firm will have to wait until Tuesday to see if its performance has done enough to quell concerns about its financial viability. The group saw its Q2 net profit slip 5% to $62.61m as revenues fell back on sliding commodity prices. The company said it is looking to slash 16% of its workforce by the end of the year.

Noble also revealed that an investigation it had commissioned by accountants PwC had shown that its mark-to-market (MTM) models, valuations and governance framework comply with relevant requirements and standard industry practices.

Noble employed PwC in the wake of a series of stinging attacks from February this year on the company and its accounting practices by Hong Kong-based Iceberg Research, criticism that has seen Noble’s share price decimated over the past six months.

Looking at the PwC review and the Noble results, Iceberg sent out a note this evening in which it noted: “Enron was also largely in compliance with accounting rules. This review will fail to answer the market’s concerns. The market wants to know the real value of these MTM, not whether Noble successfully exploits accounting loopholes.”

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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