RPT-UPDATE 1-Macquarie says no deal been done to buy Goldman uranium desk

Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:13pm EST

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Jan 17 (Reuters) - Australia's Macquarie Bank said on Friday that it had not concluded a deal to buy the uranium trading desk of Goldman Sachs after two trade sources said that the transaction had been agreed.

"Macquarie denies the deal has been done," a spokesperson for the Australian investment bank in London said.

Goldman put its uranium desk up for sale late last year. The U.S. bank acquired the desk in 2009 as part of a deal to buy the London-based trading operation of Constellation Energy.

Macquarie, which is expanding its commodity trading operations, has emerged as the main candidate to buy the uranium desk.

"I understand that Goldman have sold their uranium business to Macquarie," a senior trading source said, asking not to be identified. A second trading source said the same.

The Australian investment bank is also still in the running to buy JPMorgan's physical commodity trading operations competing with two other firms, trading house Mercuria and private equity firm Blackstone, according to industry sources.

Acquiring JPMorgan's physical commodity business would propel Macquarie into the top ranks of natural resources traders among banks.

Wall Street's role in physical commodity trading has come under intense pressure in the last six months, as politicians in the United States question whether banks back-stopped by the government are taking undue risks by dealing in tankers of oil and other materials.

Morgan Stanley, another Wall Street heavyweight, in December announced a deal with Russian oil major Rosneft, which is taking on the majority of the bank's physical oil trading business.

Uranium aside, Goldman has stood out amongst the top-tier U.S. banks in commodities by saying it plans to continue to operate in physical commodity markets as this is necessary to support its clients in operations such as hedging.

Goldman held around $200 million worth of low-grade uranium stocks late last year as part of its trading operation, according to industry sources.

Goldman also has a marketing arrangement with AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa's largest uranium producer, to sell the uranium it produces as a by-product of its gold mining activities.

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