Crisis-hit commodity trader Noble Group is moving closer toward a debt restructuring deal with its lenders.

The company’s chairman Paul Brough told shareholders at a meeting in Singapore on Thursday that talks had been “constructive” and were “moving forward”.

“I’m hopeful that we will reach a conclusion at some point in the near future,” said Mr Brough, a restructuring expert who was appointed chairman in May.

He was speaking after a report on Debtwire claimed the Singapore-listed group had struck an outline agreement with its creditors to restructure $3.5bn of debt.

The shareholder meeting was called to approve the disposal of dry-bulk carriers for $95m to cut debt. Noble has also sold its prized oil business, as well as its US gas and power unit in an attempt to reduce leverage. It is now planning to focus on its coal trading business in Asia.

Noble was plunged into crisis in February 2015, when Iceberg Research, a previously unknown firm, produced the first in a series of reports highly critical of the company and its inability to convert profits into cash.

Noble, once Asia’s largest commodity trader, has always defended its accounting.

Its shares rose 15 per cent to S$30.5 cents on Thursday before trading was halted at the request of the company. They are still down 96 per cent since February 2015.

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