CIC Rebalance: Sells 300 Million Shares in Noble Group
In a strategic move to rebalance its large direct holdings, sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC) sold about 1/3 of its holdings in Singapore-listed Noble Group Limited, a global commodity trader company. In 2009, the CIC acquired a 14.3% stake in Noble Group, betting on the natural resource theme. Noble Group is a major revenue company listed in Singapore; however, like other publicly-traded commodity trading firms, they have suffered from razor-thin profit margins.
The CIC sold 300 million shares in Noble, netting about US$ 315 million, lowering ownership below 10%. The CIC still remains the largest shareholder in the company.
In April, Chinese state-owned COFCO Corporation, also known as China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation, and private equity firm Hopu Investment Management bought a 51% stake in Noble Group’s agribusiness divisions for US$ 1.5 billion. Of the partnership deal with Hopu, COFCO is taking a 2/3’s majority position. Formed in 1949, COFCO is China’s biggest grain trader. In September, the new entity was created as a joint venture called Noble Agri and attracted outside co-investors. These investors include: Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, International Finance Corporation and Standard Chartered Private Equity.
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