LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - Trading major Trafigura is beefing up its Russian offices and has hired former top traders from BP and TNK-BP as it seeks to expand its presence in the world's largest crude producer, the company and trading sources said.
The Swiss-based firm is hiring Jonathan Kollek, who has long served as vice-president of trading at TNK-BP, Russia's third largest oil firm, bought earlier this year by state champion Rosneft for $55 billion, three sources familiar with the move said.
Trafigura will also hire Elena Lobodina, who previously worked at BP's Moscow offices and replaced Kollek at TNK-BP last year, sources said.
Trafigura has selected a team of senior managers with a "world-class track record" to significantly develop its businesses in Russia and the former Soviet Union, the company said in a statement, without naming new hires.
"The potential in Russia is enormous and if we are able to marry Trafigura's international expertise with Russia's substantial resources and talents, we will create great value for all involved and substantially contribute to the economic growth of the local economy," said Mike Wainwright, Chief Operating Officer at Trafigura Beheer BV.
Rosneft has become the world's largest publicly-listed oil producer thanks to the acquisition of TNK-BP from BP and four Soviet-born oligarchs.
Rosneft has financed the acquisition partly through a $10 billion trade finance deal with Glencore and Vitol, which allowed the two trading houses to cement their positions as leading exporters of Russian oil.
Trafigura, the world's third largest trader in raw material, had a smaller exposure to Russian oil in recent years compared with Vitol and Glencore. The company's main exposure to Russian oil was through annual tenders by TNK-BP. (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Anthony Barker and David Cowell)