Iceberg Research

Iceberg's comments on the SGX Announcement made by Noble Group on 17 February 2015

February 18, 2015

In our report, we wrote that the $603m valuation gap for Yancoal is an accounting loophole. It may be formally acceptable from an auditors point of view but it is unreasonable from an investors point of view. We think Yancoal is a straightforward issue. Noble should recognise the $603m impairment (in particular on the $100m paper profit booked in 2012), record the loss, and move on. If Noble thinks that the share price of Yancoal is massively undervalued, the group should increase its ownership percentage.

We maintain that Noble misled the market about the performance of Agri. For example, Noble has not explained why depreciation fell and why Agri’s interest expenses were subsidised by the rest of the group. The really important question is: will Noble disclose the final price paid by COFCO, AND any remaining financial commitment related to this transaction? We have not been able to consult the Agri share sale agreement that was made available to the public in the Bermuda office.

PT Pusaka Agro Lestari’s plantation business licence and a right of cultivation are in order. Our point is that the local government seems to think otherwise. Indonesia has a rather unpredictable legal environment. The political tensions associated to PT PAL will complicate the sale process. However, according to Noble, PT PAL represents only 20-25% of the palm activity, and any future profits or losses incurred upon the sale of the palm assets will be shared equally between Noble and the COFCO led consortium. We will adjust impairments and valuation accordingly.

We did not approach the group to address our concerns because we did not want to alert insiders. We also note that Noble has not answered seven of the eight questions asked at the end of our first report.

Iceberg does not hold any position, long or short, whether directly or indirectly, in Noble’s securities.

 




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