ENERGY & OFFSHORE | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Noble paid US$20m to keep senior staff in US oil unit

In their breakdown, there was a lump sum payment of $3.8m and a loan written off for $3.82m.

Noble Group Limited confirmed that it gave away retention payments worth US$20m to its senior staff that was behind its US oil liquids business last June.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) launched an inquiry on the group after reports came out that Noble handed its former CEO Jeff Frase a remuneration package worth about US$20m last year, even as the commodity trader slumped to a record loss of almost US$5b. Fraser resigned on 13 November 2017 after Noble sold Noble Americas Corp (NAC) to Vitol Group.

In a response to SGX queries, Noble said banks had required it to pay the retention payments to senior NAC staff “as part of their support and forbearance for NAC during the sale process, and in order to keep the business stable.” It didn’t disclose how much of the US$20m went to Frase, but it included a breakdown of the remuneration package.

There was a lump sum payment of $3.8m and a loan written off for $3.82m. There was also a prior year bonus released from clawback of $7.65m.

“The CEO had been responsible for building the Oil Liquids business of NAC and, when it became necessary to shrink the business due to lack of continuing bank support, a decision was taken to sell the business in as controlled a manner as possible, optimizing price, time and execution risk,” Noble said.

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