| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 14 Senior cotton executives at
commodity trader Olam International and mid-sized
British merchant Plexus Cotton Ltd. have resigned in recent
weeks, as the biggest personnel reshuffle in years continues to
upend the industry, sources said.
The last working day of Olam's top U.S. cotton trader,
Cameron Austin, is set for Friday. He will join a smaller
Australian rival just weeks after the Singapore-based commodity
merchant installed Hank Gray as head of its U.S. cotton desk.
Jean-Marc Derossis, managing director of Plexus Cotton Ltd.
in the United Kingdom, has resigned with plans to return to the
cotton market in the summer, according to sources familiar with
Senior resignations are relatively rare in the close-knit
community, which is dominated by a few big global merchants and
in which loyalty is often prized.
Austin and Derossis had worked for their respective
employers for almost two decades.
They are the most recent in the biggest wave of trader
changes since the cotton market upheaval of 2011 when merchants
lost millions due to whipsawing prices and widespread contract
defaults by both growers and mills.
The moves come at a crucial time for the volatile cotton
market amid concerns about long-term demand as Beijing unwinds
its years-long stockpiling policy and competition with
lower-priced synthetic fiber remains fierce.
A spokeswoman for Olam declined to comment on Thursday
during the quiet period ahead of its quarterly earnings release
early Friday morning.
OLAM, NOBLE AND ECOM
Austin, an Australian and based in Texas, joined Olam as
part of its acquisition of Australia's Queensland Cotton in
2007. He had been at Queensland since 1996 starting out as a
risk assistant, according to his Linkedin profile.
Gray came from Noble, which has hired John King from
Switzerland's Ecom Agroindustrial Corp Ltd, sources said. King
had been at Ecom since 1996 and was most recently manager of
central/eastern United States, according to LinkedIn.
A spokesman for Noble declined to comment. Ecom did not
respond to a request for comment.
Austin will join Australian grower and merchant Brighann
Cotton Marketing to run its U.S. business, as it seeks to expand
and diversify supplies to China, the world's top consumer,
Brighann's general manager Ian McDonald told Reuters.
Brighann, which is based in Moree in New South Wales, sells
cotton to mills in China, Thailand and Japan. Hiring Austin
marks a return to the United States where it was roiled by wild
prices in 2011.
Derossis, a 39-year old Frenchman, left Plexus in recent
weeks after a 17-year career. He started out trading West
African cotton and was promoted to managing director in 2009.
Plexus Chairman and founder Nick Earlam confirmed Derossis'
resignation in an email on Thursday but did not say on whether
he will be replaced.
In a message on his Linkedin profile, Derossis said he will
be back in the cotton business towards the end of July, "tasked
with a very exciting new challenge."
He lives in Liverpool, the traditional hub of global cotton
trading and Plexus' headquarters.