Goldman Sachs head of oil and ags Karl Robijns to retire - memo

LONDON, March 6 Thu Mar 6, 2014 6:45am EST

LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs' head of oil and agricultural trading, Karl Robijns, is retiring from the firm, an internal memo seen by Reuters showed.

London-based Robijns, who first joined Goldman as an oil trader in 1998, has headed the bank's global oil, refined products, and agricultural trading since last year.

"Karl has had a substantial commercial impact on our market-leading commodities franchise," said the memo from Goldman's co-heads of securities - Isabelle Ealet, Ashok Varadhan and Pablo Salame.

Robijns is the latest high-profile commodities executive to leave a bank, as the industry wrestles with lower profits, increased regulation and reduced volatility in the sector.

Revenue for the top banks in the sector has fallen from more than $14 billion in 2008 to just $4.5 billion last year, according to London-based financial industry analytics firm Coalition.

Senior Goldman executives have said they remain committed to the bank's J.Aron & Co commodities business, where the bank's CEO Lloyd Blankfein started his career, even as rivals scale back.

JPMorgan is in exclusive talks with Mercuria to sell its physical commodities business to the Geneva-based trading house, while Morgan Stanley is selling part of its physical oil trading operation to Russia's Rosneft.

Robijns briefly left Goldman to join hedge fund Citadel, but returned to the bank in 2007 as a managing director. He became a partner in 2010, running the bank's commodities business in Asia between then and 2013.