LME open-outcry firms drop to 10 as SocGen, Newedge merge teams

LONDON, July 10 Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:31pm EDT

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LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - Societe Generale is merging its open outcry trading team on the London Metal Exchange (LME) with its unit Newedge, cutting the number of LME "ring-dealing" members to 10.

The LME, the world's oldest and biggest market for industrial metals, is the only exchange in Europe to still use open-outcry trading.

In its open-outcry trading ring - a circle of padded red-leather seats - traders use arcane hand signals during five-minute bursts of intense trading in copper, aluminium, lead, nickel and zinc.

SocGen finalised its purchase of the remaining 50 percent of Newedge from Credit Agricole in May. The move, agreed last November, was part of an asset swap between the two French banks to help narrow their business focus.

"Following the acquisition of Newedge by Societe Generale, we have made the logical decision to merge the Newedge and Societe Generale LME floor teams," SocGen and Newedge said in a joint statement.

From July 15, the new team will trade in the LME ring under Newedge, and SocGen will downgrade its LME membership to category 2, which allows electronic and telephone trading.

"We are pleased that Societe Generale Group remain fully committed to their metals and commodities franchise," the LME said in a statement.

Last month, the LME said it would keep its open-outcry trading ring, bucking a trend by most other markets to shift to all-electronic operations.

The LME launched a review of whether to keep the ring following its takeover by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd in December 2012.

The number of firms that trade in the ring has steadily declined from about 30 during a peak in the late 1980s, but the exchange said last month it hopes more will join. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Pravin Char)

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