October 12, 2019 / 10:09 AM / 6 days ago

Turnaround specialist behind Noble Group's rescue replaced as chairman

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - 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 centers 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.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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