Newedge's commodities, currencies chief leaves

NEW YORK Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:30pm EST

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NEW YORK Dec 12 (Reuters) - Newedge Group's global commodities and currencies chief, John Fay, has left the U.S.-based futures brokerage ahead of a major ownership change.

Fay's resignation, announced by Newedge on Thursday, comes as the firm's owners, French banks Societe Generale SocGen and Credit Agricole, prepare for SocGen to take full control of the company.

Newedge said it has split Fay's role in two, naming two co-heads of global currencies and commodities: long-time SocGen commodities executive Francois Combes will run the global commodities business, and Newedge executive Franck Borgel will take responsibility for global currencies.

Borgel, who will be based in New York, is already chief operating officer of the commodities and currencies division. He has been with Newedge for 14 years.

Combes, who will be based in London, joins from SocGen Corporate & Investment Banking (SG CIB), where he was most recently deputy head of commodities and head of metals and agricultural products. Before that he was head of commodities trading from 2007 to 2011.

Fay was with Newedge for five years. He left to pursue other opportunities, the firm said. No other details were given.

It is the second high-profile departure from Newedge's commodities business in recent months: Brian Flaherty left last month. A Newedge spokeswoman on Thursday confirmed that Flaherty had left but declined to comment further.

Newedge hired Flaherty as U.S. head of metals last December following the abrupt departure of global head of metals Mike Frawley, along with senior traders, in the summer of 2012.

TUMULTUOUS TIMES

As head of commodities and currencies since October 2010, Fay oversaw the business during one of the most tumultuous periods for commodity futures brokers and the financial services industry following the 2008 global economic crisis.

A clampdown on proprietary trading and greater capital requirements and regulation have curbed banks' and brokers' margins, while commodity futures brokers have suffered from stiff competition, low fees and a drop in trading volume.

The scandals surrounding the collapse of MF Global and Peregrine Financial Group in 2011 and 2012 also hurt customer confidence in futures brokers, which execute and clear futures deals for commercial hedgers such as grain elevators and institutional investors including hedge funds.

Combes and Borgel take the reins at a crucial time.

As part of an asset swap announced last month, SocGen will buy Credit Agricole's 50 percent stake in Newedge for 275 million euros ($372 million), while Agricole will buy 5 percent of their asset-management venture Amundi for 337.5 million.

The agreement ended years of uncertainty over ownership of the broker. SocGen previously sought to exit the unit as part of a drive to strengthen its balance sheet, but a lack of buyers forced it to come up with new ways to integrate it. (Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by John Wallace)

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