Banks' 2012 commodity revenue seen down by a quarter

Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:26am EST

* Bank 2012 commodity revenue estimated at $6 bln

* Hit by lower volatility, reduced client activity

* Heavier regulation, capital requirements also factors

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Investment bank revenue from commodities trading dropped by about a quarter last year due to lower volatility and lacklustre client business, financial sector consultant Coalition said.

Turnover in commodities was also affected due to stiffer regulation and more rigorous capital requirements, Coalition said in a report on overall performance by the world's 10 biggest investment banks.

Commodity revenue from the top investment banks fell to about $6 billion in 2012 from about $8 billion the previous year, Coalition said in the report released on Thursday. Banks do not break out revenue from commodities when reporting results.

"Low volatility and reduced client activity led to a 24 per cent drop in revenues. Energy, investor products and precious metals options businesses were notably affected," the report said.

"Performance was also subdued by ongoing concerns about increased regulation and capital sensitivity, pushing banks to re-evaluate their commodities strategies."

When Morgan Stanley reported last month, it said that its fourth-quarter commodities results were the worst since 1995. In the same week Goldman Sachs said its commodity results were "significantly lower".

Another consultant, Tricumen, said earlier this month that commodities revenue at top U.S. banks tumbled by a third in the fourth quarter.

U.S. banks have had to shrink operations to comply with tighter bank regulation since the 2008 financial crisis. This includes the Volcker rule banning banks from proprietary trading - when deals are done by banks for themselves rather than on behalf of clients.

The other eight banks that Coalition tracks are Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup , Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, RBS and UBS.