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Noble Group seeks ways to cut debt

The financially troubled part owner of  Jamaican alumina plant (Jamalco) -  the Noble Group - has resorted to selling four dry bulk carrier vessels for about US$95 million as it looks to cut debt to keep its business running. 
 
A statement from Noble said net proceeds from the disposal, following repayment of  bank loans associated with the ships and other costs, will amount to about US$30 million.
 
Noble said the sale of  the vessels was expected to close next year between March 10 and May 31 and would not significantly affect the operations of  its freight business. 
 
Noble, once a global commodity trader with ambitions to rival the likes of  Glencore, has shriveled to an Asia-centric company, focused largely on coal and freight trading after a crisis-wracked two years that have forced it to slash jobs and sell assets.
 
Last month, the company said it had started talks with stakeholders to restructure its debt and secure trade finances.
 
Bloomberg also reported that the sale of  Jamalco could be among plans presented by Noble Group when it met with bondholders for crisis talks to restructure about US$3.5 billion in debt.
 
Jamaica's Mining Minister, Mike Henry, in a subsequent interview with RJR News, said the sale of  the Jamalco shares was not likely to materialise.
 
Noble Group purchased 55 per cent of  Jamalco from Alcoa in 2014 for a reported US$140 million.
 
The other 45 per cent of the company is retained by the Jamaican Government through Clarendon Alumina Partners.
 
More trouble
 
Meanwhile, the Noble Group is facing more trouble.
 
Reuters is reporting that its market value has whittled down to US$150 million as investors assess whether the embattled commodity trader can manage to renegotiate its debt burden with banks, funds and bondholders.
 
At its peak, Noble Group was worth more than US$10 billion.
 
The company has been in a downward spiral since 2015 with Fitch Ratings declaring that a default on its loans appears probable.
 
The relentless retreat in the shares, which have sunk more than 90 per cent this year as the company sold more assets and reported further losses, has crushed the value of  holdings, including stock held by founder Richard Elman.


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