Vitol makes debut in grains market, hires Viterra team

LONDON Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:46pm EST

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LONDON Feb 20(Reuters) - Top oil trader Vitol is making final preparations to build a global grains desk and has hired traders following Glencore's takeover of Canada's Viterra Inc, trading sources said on Wednesday.

Vitol, which has an annual turnover of nearly $300 billion, will vie for market share along with rival trading firms Gunvor and Mercuria which have also expanded in agricultural commodity markets.

Trading sources said the Swiss-based firm had hired at least five traders from Viterra's Geneva, Hamburg and Singapore offices following Glencore's $6 billion takeover of Canadian grains giant Viterra last year.

The first grain trading staff are expected to join next month, two industry sources said.

Vitol, already present in the sugar market, is hiring around 15 staff as part of the expansion, one of the sources said.

Vitol declined comment. Glencore was not immediately available for comment.

Industry sources said that the Glencore-Viterra tie up -- one of the largest deals in the global agriculture business for years -- meant that many Viterra traders discovered that Glencore traders had similar roles to their own.

"A lot of the main grains people at Viterra are not being taken on by Glencore because of direct overlaps," said a grains trader formerly working for Viterra.

"Hamburg and Singapore are being talked about as offices because of their regional grain trading strengths and the existence of Viterra offices in both cities."

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