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Noble pays former CEO $27m after legal battle

Noble Group Holdings, the commodity trader shrunken by years of losses and a multibillion-dollar restructuring, has paid US$20 million (S$26.9 million) to formerchief executive officer Ricardo Leiman.

The payment to Mr Leiman, who left the company in 2011 – several years before its 2018 restructuring – was disclosed in a presentation accompanying Noble’s third-quarter results last Friday.

It followed a long legal battle concluded in May, when Singapore’s Court of Appeal ruled that Noble had deprived Mr Leiman of entitlements including the right to exercise share options when he left.

When the case was first filed in 2012, Mr Leiman’s restricted shares and share options were worth about US$59 million, Bloomberg reported at the time.

By the time Noble’s Singapore-listed stock was suspended in 2018, its value had fallen by 99 per cent.

The settlement is a similar size to a roughly US$20 million package former co-chief executive Jeff Frase received on leaving in 2017, even as Noble slumped to a loss of almost US$5 billion.

Mr Leiman declined to comment on the terms of the settlement, saying only that he had no outstanding legal cases against Noble.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

While Noble’s market value once exceeded US$10 billion, it has become a shadow of its former self following a restructuring in 2018 that handed control to its creditors.

The US$20 million payment to Mr Leiman is equal to about 70 per cent of the company’s entire staff bill for the first half of this year, when “human capital costs” totalled US$28 million.

Noble’s presentation showed the US$20 million payment as a cash outflow during the first half of this year related to the settlement of a legal case involving a former CEO. The size of the payment had not previously been disclosed.


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