* Three top bankers have left since March
* Lending cuts hurt small commodity traders
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, June 26 BNP Paribas has lost
two of its top Geneva-based bankers in commodity trade finance,
the French bank confirmed, dealing a further blow to one of the
sector's major lenders.
The departures were driven by a perception of diminishing
opportunities within the bank, industry sources said, as
traditional lenders cut lending due to a lack of dollar
financing and new European rules on capital requirements due to
be phased in next year.
The two heads of energy and commodities finance for global
trading hub Switzerland, Jacques Begle and Philippe Ziegler,
have left BNP, a spokesperson for the bank confirmed to Reuters.
The official did not say whether they would be replaced.
Begle was also one of the top bankers for the former Soviet
Union, a core BNP market.
The bank said in March it remained committed to the sector
after its head of commodity trade finance, Jacques-Olivier
Thomann, quit his role.
Still, the retrenchment of lenders such as BNP Paribas from
transactional trade finance -- a form of ad hoc lending that
does not require a formal credit facility -- has left many
smaller commodity traders without access to funding.
Asian and Middle Eastern banks have filled some of the
shortfall left by French lenders such as BNP Paribas and Credit
Agricole, although some clients are seen as vulnerable to
closure or takeover by bigger rivals.
"It's an earthquake for the sector. These recent
resignations of top-notch bankers are a sign that the situation
is worsening for Geneva's typical transactional finance system,"
said Philippe Steiner, a Geneva-based commodity finance
Increasing caution among lenders is also seen as impeding
the emergence of a new generation of start-up trading houses.
Switzerland is the base for major commodity traders such as
Glencore and Vitol, and handles around one third of
physical crude oil volumes globally.