UPDATE 1-Brightoil to hire crude oil traders in Singapore, US
* To hire about 10 traders in Singapore, U.S.
* Will not shut Houston office
* Net profit down 76 pct for fiscal year ended June (Adds quotes, details)
HONG KONG, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-listed Brightoil Petroleum (Holdings) Ltd will hire about 10 traders in Singapore and the United States to start physical trading in crude oil, a company executive said.
Commencing crude trading is part of the company's plan to become a supplier to the world's top energy consumer China and grab a slice of its massive 5 million barrel-per-day crude import market.
"Moving into financial year 2013, we plan to strengthen our crude oil team and start our crude oil trading business," Denny Tan, executive director and chief financial officer, told reporters in an earnings briefing on Tuesday.
Brightoil will add staff in Singapore before the United States, he said, ruling out any plans to close down the company's Houston office.
Uncertainty surrounded Brightoil's U.S. plans after Vince Matassa, who oversaw operations and logistics for the company's trading business in the United States and the Caribbean, resigned in June.
The Houston office will function as a regional office for trading and upstream acquisition, Tan said.
The company reported a 76 percent fall in net profit for fiscal year ended June 2012. Company executives attributed the fall to sharply higher cost of sales and services, which surged to HK$69 billion ($8.90 billion) from HK$37 billion a year ago.
Brightoil's international trading and bunkering division recorded a 46 percent increase in sales volume to 13 million tonnes in the year ended June. But thin physical margins and rising operating costs weighed on profits, the company said.
Brightoil currently has more than 150 people in its bunker trading team in Singapore, Houston and Europe, including traders, operators, analysts and mid- and back-office staff, compared with just more than 30 people when the business was set up two years ago, Tan added.
The company has already hired at least three traders for the crude trading desk - former Royal Dutch Shell Plc trader Kevin Du, ex-Unipec trader Adrian Li Shiyong and derivatives trader Tham Mun Yang from Glencore International Plc - who joined between August and September.
The expansion into crude trading demonstrates the aspirations of Brightoil Chairman Raymond Sit - who is believed to enjoy warm ties with top officials in Beijing - to turn the company into a global energy conglomerate. ($1 = 7.7525 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting By Charlie Zhu, Writing by Manash Goswami; Editing by Himani Sarkar) (email@example.com +852 2843 1649 Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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