Paul Chan Wei Sern, an assistant registrar at Singapore's High Court, is set to decide today whether to throw out an action brought by former Noble Group chief executive Ricardo Leiman against Noble Resources. The firm, through Singapore law practice Advocatus Law, has applied to strike out Leiman's case. He is suing Noble for compensation after claiming that shares and a bonus were wrongly withheld following his resignation, which was announced by Noble on November 9 last year. This was the same day the Hong Kong-headquartered, Singapore-listed commodities group announced a US$17 million net loss for the third quarter, the first quarterly loss in about 14 years. Leiman claimed he was entitled to acquire or exercise options for at least 13.35 million shares and an annual discretionary bonus of 3 per cent of Noble's net income in 2011. The shares were worth S$21.1 million (HK$129.8 million), based on Noble's share price the day before Leiman's resignation and the group net loss was announced, although the stock has since slumped to S$1.09 yesterday. The bonus was worth US$12.9 million, based on Noble's full-year net profit of US$431.3 million. Leiman, who joined Noble in 2006, said he and Noble agreed to the resignation after several disagreements with the firm's founder and current chairman Richard Elman. Industry insiders expected the two sides to agree a settlement if the registrar decided Leiman's action could proceed. 'It's unlikely Richard would want the case to go to trial,' said one source. Any trial could shine the spotlight on management operations at one of Asia's largest commodity groups, revealing management succession issues that could be similar to those faced by family businesses founded by Asian tycoons. Elman, 72, has professed a desire to slow down for the past few years but he still retains strong control over the company he created, frequently conferring on a daily basis with longtime partner and friend Harry Banga. One insider who knows both men said Banga wanted to take a less active role in the company but did not feel able to with Elman still largely in command. Banga stepped down in June 2010 from the day-to-day running of Noble's logistics and steel businesses to become vice-chairman emeritus, but he is still heavily involved in Noble. A management succession plan that saw the appointment of Leiman and several top executives, including executive chairman Tobias Brown and chief financial officer Stephen Marzo, was left in tatters when they left the company in 2010 and 2011. Elman likened Brown to Warren Buffett's Charlie Munger before appointing him executive chairman from September 2010, pointing out that Brown had 'played a key role in Noble' that stretched back more than 15 years. But Brown was in the job for just two months before he left. One Singapore-based analyst said that while chief executive Yusuf Alireza was appointed in April and William Cronin was named this week as co-chief operating officer with Nicholas Brewer, Noble was still Elman's 'baby'. 'He is gradually letting go of the reins,' the analyst said.