SYDNEY Jan 27 (Reuters) - Swiss commodities merchant Gunvor is beefing up its Asian metals trading business, setting up teams in Singapore and Shanghai with several high-profile hires, two sources told Reuters.
The commodities trading house, long known in the industry as one of the key traders of Russian oil, began to diversify into metals in Europe in late 2012, as part of a wider trend by large trading houses to reduce an excessive reliance on energy.
Chief executive and co-founder Torbjorn Tornqvist told Reuters in November Gunvor had looked at trading assets, including parts of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s business.
JPMorgan's assets include oil storage tanks in Canada and also its Henry Bath global network of metal warehouses. Energy still represents the lion's share of Gunvor's business but the mix is changing.
Gunvor has hired Rene van der Kam and Yingping Julie Zhu, both of whom departed Noble Group's Singapore base metal operations in November. Van der Kam was heading the operations while Zhu was a metals trader.
Gunvor's metals trading team in Singapore will comprise at least three traders and one operations staff, while the Shanghai team will initially have between two to four traders.
"It's a team in Shanghai and a team in Singapore. There will be more, it's ongoing," one source said.
Gunvor has also hired precious metals trader Cedric Chanu in Singapore for precious metals, a spokesman said, declining to comment on other hires.
Chanu was previously at Deutsche Bank, according to his Linked In profile. (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)