Norway Drugmaker Turns Oil Trader And Quickly Loses Millions

By Mikael Holter If you’re a small drugmaker with a successful diabetes treatment, but concerned you lack scale in the global market, what’s your next move? Norway’s Vistin Pharma ASA decided to hire an oil-market analyst and place large bets on the price of shipping fuels. It didn’t work out terribly well. After abruptly announcing last week that the head of its trading unit, former top-ranked DNB ASA oil analyst Torbjorn Kjus, was leaving the company, it revealed the business had racked up losses of 101 million kroner ($12 million). At the end of 2018, margin calls — deposits required to cover trading losses — had reached 163.5 million kroner, tying up more than half the entire company’s cash. Vistin entered the market at a time when specialists were already struggling to make money. Many of the world’s largest commodity-trading houses fell on hard times in 2018, wrong-footed by wild swings in price spreads between oil grades, a stark reversal from the big returns of prior years. On Tuesday, Vistin’s board called it quits and shut the oil-trading venture. The company will continue to manage the outstanding contracts until they expire at the end of 2020, but won’t enter any new bets. Fuel Wager After selling its opioids… continue reading

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