State Commodity Traders Grow to Take On Glencore, Cargill

(Bloomberg) by Javier Blas – When Azerbaijan’s Socar Trading SA took over the storied commodity trader Phibro LLC this year, it put a stamp on a new trend: the emergence of giant state enterprises to buy and sell natural resources. Azerbaijan is not alone: Saudi Arabia, China, Oman, Thailand and Russia are also building or expanding government-owned firms to procure and market commodities directly, bypassing the traditional oil and grain traders such as Glencore Plc, Cargill Inc., Vitol Group BV and Trafigura Beheer BV. “Countries want to secure the offtake of their production or they want to secure supplies,” Socar Trading Chief Executive Officer Arzu Azimov said in an interview. “There is a trend of national companies building trading arms.”  The new cadre of state trading houses has deep pockets and lofty ambitions. They have built their capabilities through acquisitions and rapid organic growth, often poaching executives from U.S. and European competitors to do it. And over time, they could damage the business model of the current dominant groups. “The growth of the state-owned traders is making it harder for the established houses,” said Andrew Montague-Fuller, director of energy consultants Molten Group. Socar purchased the remnants of Phibro in March. … continue reading

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