BNP Paribas affirms commitment to commods trade

Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:05am EDT

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By Emma Farge

GENEVA, March 30 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas said it had appointed the new managing director for Switzerland, turning to its global head of commodities trade finance as it expressed its commitment to the sector, which has come under strain from the euro zone crisis.

Philippe de Gentile, who will move to Geneva and retain his role as global head of energy and commodity finance, replaces previous managing director Jacques-Olivier Thomann.

"This appointment illustrates the importance that BNP Paribas grants to the commodity trade finance sector, of which it is one of the top global actors," the bank said.

"Philippe de Gentile benefits from nearly 35 years experience at BNP Paribas in the commodities sector," it added.

BNP Paribas, Europe's trade finance leader in commodities, announced staff reductions in its corporate and investment banking division last year, including 18 jobs in Switzerland.

A spokeswoman for the bank added that the consolidation plan was now complete and that no further job cuts were planned.

Trade finance, traditionally a low-risk and low-return business, is under pressure from the Basel regulations on capital adequacy and from a shortage of dollar funding among European banks.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Thomann, who also heads the Geneva Trading and Shipping Association, planned to move into an advisory role at the bank's headquarters.

Last week, Thomann told Reuters the bank was planning to launch a fund this year to drum up new liquidity for trade finance.

In December, French banking rival Credit Agricole bowed out of commodity trading and financing due to strain from the euro zone crisis. (Reporting by Emma Farge, editing by Jane Baird)

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