Five former Cargill traders join Singapore palm oil firm: source

SINGAPORE Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:34am EST

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Five former Cargill traders have joined Singapore-listed palm oil firm Golden-Agri Resources Ltd early this year, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The source, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the four traders and veteran dealer Paul Hickman started trading last week.

He declined to give a reason for the move, although industry sources said Golden-Agri has been looking for an experienced team to market its products as the firm plans to double its Indonesian palm oil refining capacity.

A Golden-Agri spokesman did not immediately comment on the company hiring the four traders but said the move to bring Hickman on board would "strengthen the downstream strategy of Golden-Agri."

The edible oil traders, led by Hickman, left the Singapore vegetable oil trading desk of global commodities trading giant Cargill in mid-July last year.

Since then industry participants had speculated the traders were headed to competitors in Asia, such as commodities trader Glencore or Singapore-listed palm oil processor Wilmar International.

Golden-Agri told the Singapore stock exchange last month it appointed Hickman as its new head of global vegetable oils and oilseeds starting on Jan 2 although it did not say in the statement if his team would follow.

Golden-Agri's subsidiaries include Jakarta-listed SMART TBK, which manages all of Golden-Agri's oil palm plantations and expects 2013 output to rise as much as 10 percent on the year to about 2.4 million tonnes.

Indonesia's Widjaja family controls both firms, which dominate the Indonesian plantation sector, together with Singapore-listed competitors Indofood Agri Resources and Wilmar International.

(Reporting By Chew Yee Kiat; Editing by Niluksi Koswanage and Clarence Fernandez)

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