Monthly Archives: May 2016

Resignation of Noble Group’s CEO, Yusuf Alireza

Iceberg Research

Mr Alireza was recruited four years ago by Noble. His first day as CEO of this large physical trader was his first day in the commodity business. The learning curve has been a painful experience for the company’s shareholders: the share price fell by 76%. Noble dramatically underperformed traders that can be short or long commodities. The trader even underperformed some producers that are structurally long.

Mr Alireza is not responsible for all the accounting issues at Noble. The dubious mark-to-market did not start with him. The level was already suspiciously high under the previous CEO, Ricardo Leiman. Mr Alireza also found Noble in poor shape after his predecessor made investments in sugar assets at the very wrong time. This would plague Noble’s performance for years.

But Mr Alireza could have walked away from a company increasingly dependent on accounting alchemy to hide bad results. Instead, he embraced the system…

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“The Big N”

On May 17, Fitch has joined Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in cutting the Hong-Kong trader to junk, citing a shift toward a short-term financing would weaken their debt profile to a point they could no-longer be investment grade”.

“Noble has lost US$1.5 billion in bank lines. Trade and other payable has decreased by US$1.271 billion with approximately 50% due to the tightening of the Group’s uncommitted unsecured bank lines which resulted in a reduction in the availability of term letters of credit”.

Noble Group MD&A Q1-2016  p.18

“The decrease in trade and other payables was due to: “in the money” Oil Liquids futures contracts rolling off with corresponding decrease in cash margin liabilities to brokers which are included in trade and other payables; and the tightening of the Group’s uncommitted unsecured credit lines.”

Noble Group Q1-2016 Presentation p.10

Continue reading “The Big N”