HONG KONG, CHINA — Noble Group’s Corporate & Others segment, which includes Noble Agri Limited (NAL), reported on Nov. 13 a loss of $60.7 million compared to a $193.2 million profit in the same period of last year.

Sales for Corporate & Others were $764.9 million for the third quarter, up from $363.2 million.

Noble Agri has continued to operate at a loss in the nine months ended Sept. 30, as it has continued to be impacted by lower sugar prices. The latest quarter also saw rain impacting the ramp up of the seasonal harvest and lowering sugar yields.

The market recovered rapidly in recent weeks after the quarter end to trade in and around 15¢ a pound, and with increased demand for domestic ethanol coming through, sentiment regarding the medium-term outlook may have improved, Noble said. Domestic Brazilian prices for both hydrous and anhydrous ethanol have recovered in Sao Paulo state by 30% since September.

Current pricing structures are already having an impact on the mills’ financial performance and could ensure – on existing forecasts all other things being equal – the mills generating significantly improved results in 2016.
Noble Group reported an overall net profit of $24.7 million in the third quarter, down 83.9% from $153.9 million. Sales were also down from $23.3 billion to $18.6 billion in the same quarter of last year.

Earlier in 2015, NAL hired Matt Jansen as chief executive officer (CEO). Jansen’s focus is to improve the performance of NAL, enlarge the business and prepare, in due course, for listing. A number of further senior business hires, who have come on board in the last few weeks, have also been made with the aim of enabling the group to return to profitability while positioning itself to manage its anticipated growth in both volumes and geographic reach. 

Noble also announced on Nov. 13 that Robert van der Zalm, Noble Group chief financial officer (CFO), has decided to step down from his position. Zalm will now be taking on the role of vice-chairman of finance, based in London, England. Paul Jackaman, CFO Asia, will take on the role of acting group CFO.

Zalm recently took a health-related leave of absence, and while it was anticipated that he would return in time for Noble’s third-quarter results announcement, he has now decided to step down from his executive role and he will be relocating back to Europe to be with his family.

As CFO for five years, Zalm has built a global finance function to match the changing dynamics of the business, as Noble has grown its products, geographies and organizational structures. His work on systems and processes as well as optimizing the balance sheet has underpinned Noble’s move to an asset light model. In his new capacity as vice-chairman of finance, Zalm will continue to mentor the strong finance leadership team that is his legacy, and will also support specific initiatives as Noble continues to build out its business, Noble said.

Jackaman received his degree in business math from Kent University in 1994 before joining Deloitte & Touche in London. In 1997, he qualified as a chartered accountant before leaving to start a 17-year career in investment banking & commodities at Bear Stearns, JP Morgan, Nomura and Macquarie and across Europe, U.S. and Asia-Pacific. In 2010, he relocated to Sydney, Australia as CFO of Macquarie’s Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities business combining this responsibility with head of finance for EMEA. He joined Noble in 2014 as Asia-Pacific CFO.

“Robert has been a core member of Noble’s leadership team and has built many strong relationships with our key stakeholders over the last 5 years,” Noble Group CEO Yusuf Alireza said. “While we regret he cannot continue in his full-time role as Group CFO, we are delighted that he will continue to support the firm in a non-executive capacity as we transition these important relationships. As CFO Asia, Paul Jackaman has been a key member of our global finance leadership team and will provide continuity in his role.”