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Thu 3 Sep 2020 07:11 PM

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UAE commodities firm shuts trading desks after coronavirus blow

Sources say GP Global Group decided to stop trading commodities from energy to agriculture after banks withdrew credit lines

UAE commodities firm shuts trading desks after coronavirus blow

A UAE-based commodities firm is shutting down trading desks after banks pulled financing amid the coronavirus, the latest casualty in a global wave of upheaval for middlemen and their lenders.

GP Global Group decided to stop trading commodities from energy to agriculture after banks withdrew credit lines vital to the business, according to people familiar with the matter. The company, which has offices in Dubai, has laid off employees around the world, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

“We are currently undergoing financial restructuring, and under this process we had to close a few small businesses and let some people go,” a spokesperson for GP Global said Thursday in an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg. The “majority of our trading desks are all alive as we speak.”

Commodity traders have faced harsh publicity in recent months after several came under financial stress and others met with fraud allegations, saddling banks with massive losses. That prompted lenders such as ABN Amro Bank, BNP Paribas and Societe Generale to scale back or even pull out of the business.

Trading firms have buckled since the coronavirus crushed energy demand and triggered an oil-price plunge. After losing about three-quarters of its value at the onset of the pandemic, crude is still down about 30 percent this year.

Lenders’ exposure to GP Global is just over $1 billion, the people said.

The trader, known as Gulf Petrochem Group until 2018, said in July it was restructuring its finances after lenders withheld credit lines. A month later, it appointed London-based Quantuma as an adviser.

GP Global operates a tank farm at regional trading hub Fujairah, on the Gulf of Oman coast, with 412,000 cubic metres of capacity to store and blend fuels. It also has a 200,000-cubic-metre storage terminal and a 9,000-barrel-a day refinery at the port of Hamriyah in the UAE emirate of Sharjah.

The company expected to supply 5 million tons of bunker fuel this year and operated in Europe, the Middle East, India and the Far East. It traded bunker fuel from offices in hubs such as Rotterdam and Singapore, according to a press release in March.

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