REFILE-Goldman metals trader David Freeland quits

Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:44am EDT

March 14 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs' metals trader David Freeland has left the U.S. investment bank just over a year after being hired to build its physical copper book in London, market sources said.

His departure is the strongest sign yet that the bank is struggling to expand into the capital-intensive and high-risk business perfected by commodity merchants Glencore and Trafigura.

A spokeswoman at Goldman in London declined to comment on Freeland.

His resignation comes just months after the retirement of Steve Branton-Speak who spearheaded the bank's march into physical trading in 2010 in a bid to offset tighter regulation that forced it to close its proprietary metals derivatives trading desk.

Commodity revenues at leading Wall Street firms crashed last year to their lowest on record, as tighter regulation and limited price swings squeezed the once dominant traders of Goldman, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley.

The decline is most stark at Goldman, where commodity revenues collapsed by more than 60 percent year-on-year in 2012 to just $575 million, according to the bank's annual report.

Goldman hired Freeland from Trafigura in December 2011. It hired Scott Evans from Mitsubishi in 2010 to trade aluminium, the same year it bought warehousing company Metro.

Market sources have said the team has been hampered by a lack of capital and bank bureaucracy, a big cultural shift for the traders who joined from some of the world's biggest merchants.

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