Noble Group Sets Review Panel to Check Accounting; PwC Hired

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Noble Group Ltd. appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to review how it values some of its assets after criticism of the Asian trading company’s accounting practices.

PwC will “conduct an assurance review of Noble’s mark-to-market models, valuations, and governance framework,” Noble said in a statement that also announced the creation of an independent board committee that appointed the accounting firm.

Noble shares had plunged 41 percent in Singapore since Feb. 16 when a group calling itself Iceberg Research published a first report criticizing the way the company values its investments. Iceberg’s comments have been echoed by short-seller Muddy Waters LLC.

“They’re doing whatever they can to calm the market and restore investor confidence,” Wei Bin, an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, said by phone. “I don’t think the market’s view on Noble will change just because they appointed PwC to conduct this review. We need to see the results of the review first.”

Noble closed Tuesday unchanged at 71.5 Singapore cents after swinging between losses of as much as 2.1 percent and gains of up to 4.2 percent. While six of the 14 brokerages covering the stock have kept their buy ratings, average price targets for the next 12 months have been reduced to S$1 from S$1.43 a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Noble founder and Chairman Richard Elman said in a public letter to shareholders on June 11 that the company is battling against rumors and inaccurate statements and pledged to “right the damage” to its share price.

The company’s stance has been supported by its second-largest shareholder, China Investment Corp., when the nation’s sovereign wealth fund said it would continue to support its operations.

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