Russia’s Biggest Bank Boosts Commodities Staff Amid Price Plunge

(Bloomberg) — Sberbank CIB boosted commodities staff as a slump in oil and metals spurred demand from Russian companies for a protection from volatile prices. The bank’s commodities trading team now consists of 20 people, up from four 18 months ago, said Francois Mantion, head of commodity trading at Sberbank. As global lenders from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to Deutsche Bank AG trim or exit raw materials operations, Russia needs a bank with expertise in the field, he said. Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter, gets about half of its budget revenue from oil and gas. “Commodities is a natural asset class for a bank in Russia,” Mantion, who joined the corporate and investment banking arm of Russia’s biggest lender from JPMorgan in 2013, said in an interview in London on Wednesday. “There is no trimming. We are growing stronger and stronger.”  Oil prices that reached the lowest in almost six years last month coupled with U.S. and European sanctions imposed over Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict are pushing the nation’s economy into a recession. Moscow-based Sberbank, which was among six Russian lenders restricted from borrowing in the U.S. and European Union under sanctions, got more requests for hedging … continue reading

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