Noble outperforms Singapore index after COFCO deal

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 02, 2014 04:50 hrs

SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - Noble Group Ltd outperformed a flat Singapore market on Wednesday, with shares of the commodities firm surging to their highest in more than 14 months after China's largest grain trader COFCO Corp agreed to buy a stake in its agribusiness.

Noble shares jumped as much as 5 percent to S$1.255, the highest since Jan. 28. More than 71 million shares were traded, 2 times its average full-day volume over the past 30 days.

The benchmark Straits Times Index was up 0.1 percent at 3,201.43, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.6 percent higher.

COFCO Corp will pay $1.5 billion to buy a 51 percent stake in Noble's agribusiness, the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday. This is COFCO's second acquisition in less than two months as the Chinese company seeks to strengthen its market position across the globe.

"This would be very good for its credit ratings and also in line with management guidance to make the business more asset light," Jefferies said, maintaining its "buy" rating and S$1.35 target price. (Reporting by Andrew Toh; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

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