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Noble Slides After Vice Chairman Sells Stake: Singapore Mover

Noble Group Ltd. slipped to a three-month low in Singapore trading after Vice Chairman Emeritus Harindarpal Singh Banga sold a 3.5 percent stake in the commodity supplier that reported lower-than-expected earnings last week.

Noble fell 7.3 percent after Banga offered 225 million shares for sale at a discount of as much as 5.6 percent to Noble’s previous close. Excluding the stake, 131 million shares changed hands today, compared with average daily volume of 45.5 million in the past year.

“It’s not a good sign when a director sells,” said Mervin Song, an analyst at DBS Vickers Securities (Singapore) Pte. in Singapore. “He would know more than most people.”

Stephen Brown, spokesman for Hong Kong-based Noble, said the company wouldn’t comment on Banga’s private sale. Banga wasn’t immediately available when a call was made to his office.

Noble, Asia’s biggest publicly listed commodity trader, reported third-quarter profit of $75.2 million on Nov. 8, missing the $154.6 million mean estimate of seven analysts. Earnings at Noble’s three units - agriculture, energy and metals - fell short of their expectations, Macquarie Capital Securities (Singapore) Pte. said that day in a report.

The stock dropped to S$1.08, the lowest since Aug. 3. The benchmark Straits Times index declined 0.9 percent.

A block trade of 225 million shares crossed at 8:31 a.m. in Singapore at S$1.10 apiece after Banga offered to sell the stake at S$1.10 to S$1.12 each, according to a term sheet obtained by Bloomberg News.

Banga, who sold 115 million shares in March, owned 372.5 million shares, or about 5.7 percent of Noble, before the latest sale, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Banga offered his shares through Lexdale International, which is controlled by Banga and his spouse, according to the company’s annual report.

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