Hinduja private bank to boost commods finance team

Thu Apr 5, 2012 12:59pm EDT

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By Emma Farge

GENEVA, April 5 (Reuters) - Hinduja Group's Swiss-based private banking arm said on Thursday it plans to double its commodity trade finance team by hiring five new staff.

The Indian family-owned conglomerate invests in sectors including energy and automobiles and employs more than 50,000 people.

"We are benefiting from the shake-up," the bank's chief executive Charles de Boissezon told Reuters by telephone.

He added that the bank was already providing trade finance to many Geneva-based trading houses for soft commodity transactions, such as grains.

"It's easier to hire and to get clients because the French banks who have been the most active have been reducing their lines to clients because of the need for increased capital."

European banks in trade finance, traditionally a low-risk and low-margin business, have come under pressure from shortages of dollar funding and pending new rules on capital requirements.

Hinduja Bank said it will expand into India and South America and begin financing oil deals.

De Boissezon said the bank was already providing trade finance to many Geneva-based trading houses for soft commodity transactions, such as grains.

The new bankers will begin in June and July.

Two Geneva-based bankers in trade finance have left their posts in the past fortnight: BNP Paribas' Jacques-Olivier Thomann and Cem Osmanoglu at Banque de Commerce et de Placements.

Geneva is the top global centre for commodity trade finance and Swiss-based banks are estimated to provide at least half of funding for the world's $1.5 trillion a year commodities trade.

Hinduja Bank, which has around $3 billion under management, expects its expansion in commodity financing to appeal to its client base, consisting partly of emerging market entrepreneurs.

"Individual clients already have a certain amount of cash collateral with the bank. It will be a complement to our private banking activities," de Boissezon said. (Reporting by Emma Farge; editing by Jason Neely)

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