LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - Swiss-based commodity trading house Gunvor opened this month a new trading office in Shanghai dedicated to Chinese domestic business, the company on Tuesday, as it aims to expand its presence in Asia.
Gunvor China Trading Ltd, set up in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, will initially focus on trading base metals, coal and iron ore and will at a second stage trade petroleum products too, the firm said.
Shanghai, will be the company's fifth trading office, joining existing desks in Geneva, Singapore, Nassau, and Dubai.
"While the office is still forming, we expect it will have about 20 people by year-end," the company said in an emailed statement. "Many banks have already expressed interest in supporting this activity. We expect it will be financed on-shore in China by Chinese and international banks."
Energy-focused Gunvor is expanding in iron ore and base metals as part of its strategy to diversify its product portfolio.
In Geneva, its main trading office, Gunvor employs over 225 people while its Singapore office, the company's fastest growing, currently employs more than 100 and comprises about a third of Gunvor's trading in crude oil, oil products, coal, iron ore, industrial metals and precious metals.
The company also opened a representative office in Beijing in 2009.
Gunvor Group's core earnings rose by a quarter in 2013. It expects results to improve again this year despite the uncertainty it faced in March due to sanctions on its co-founder Gennady Timchemko, for close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which dissipated when Timchemko sold his stake in the firm. (Reporting by Silvia Antonioli; editing by William Hardy)