Turnaround expert behind Noble Group’s rescue steps down as chairman

FILE PHOTO: The reception of Noble Group is seen at its headquarters in Hong Kong March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

Noble Group Holdings said Paul Brough, who rescued the once mighty commodity trader from near-collapse, had stepped down as executive chairman.

It named James Dubow, the Asia head of turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal, as its non-executive chairman. Dubow has been an independent non-executive director at Noble since January, the company said in a statement on Friday.

“Dubow will have oversight of returning Noble Holdings’ to solid long-term growth, following its successful restructuring,” it said. Hong Kong-based Dubow, a fluent Mandarin speaker, has over three decades of experience in Asia, with a focus on China.

Noble’s main centres are in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Brough, a veteran restructuring expert, who managed the liquidation of Lehman Brothers’ assets in Asia, dramatically downsized Noble’s operations after taking over as chairman in May 2017 from company founder Richard Elman.

Brough had said he would step down after Noble’s restructuring was completed.

Noble, once Asia’s biggest commodity trader, saw its market value all but wiped out from $6 billion in February 2015 after Iceberg Research issued reports accusing it of inflating its assets.

In subsequent restructurings, Noble sold billions of dollars of assets, took hefty writedowns and cut hundreds of jobs, while defending its accounting.

Brough then steered Noble through a $3.5 billion debt restructuring deal that completed in December, giving a group of creditors majority control and helped the company avoid potential insolvency.

In December, Singapore authorities blocked the listing of the restructured company amid a regulatory probe.

Noble has since emerged as a smaller, unlisted Asia-focused trader. It plans to rebuild its liquefied natural gas and core energy businesses and develop rare earths as it seeks new life, Reuters reported in August, citing sources.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.