* Pushes forward with growth drive in U.S. and Asia
* To focus on its strongest sector, commodities
* To keep looking for takeovers as others under pressure (Adds interview with new CEO, chairman)
By Eric Onstad
LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Brokerage Marex Spectron aims to at least double revenue under a newly appointed chief executive as it pushes forward with a growth drive in the United States and Asia and focuses on its strongest suit, commodities.
The acquisitive London-based group - which has already nearly tripled revenue since 2009 - announced on Wednesday that former UBS investment banker John Wall would take over as new CEO.
“This is a growth firm in an industry that’s going through a tremendous upheaval,” Wall told Reuters in an interview.
Wall, 51, who spent 25 years with UBS, retiring last year as global co-head of investment banking, said he would target growth in Asia, where Marex is still relatively small, and the United States, where it is about halfway to its targeted size.
“In doing so, we will lead where our real strengths are and where we have market dominance and that’s metals, crude, coal and fuel.”
Marex Spectron, bought out in 2010 by private equity firm JRJ Group, bills itself as the world’s largest privately owned broker of financial products in the commodities sector and also operates in financial futures, foreign exchange and securities.
Over-the-counter (OTC) business in energy accounted for 38 percent of revenue last year, the single biggest contributor. OTC trading takes place between two parties outside the framework of an exchange.
Marex plans both organic growth and targeted takeovers, and sees revenue at least doubling in the next three to five years, said Jeremy Isaacs, Marex non-executive chairman.
JRJ was founded by Isaacs and Roger Nagioff, former Lehman Brothers executives. Wall is replacing Nagioff, who had agreed to serve as CEO for a limited period and will become a non-executive director.
“We have very high ambitions. There’s no reason why these (revenue) numbers don’t double from here and potentially beyond that,” Isaacs said.
“But it’s more about focusing on segments that we think can generate high margins, playing to our strengths, which is clearly the commodities space.”
The company’s revenues rose 22 percent to $369.4 million in 2011 from $303.3 million the year before and profit before tax fell to $31.4 million from $35.8 million in the same period, the latest financial report on its website showed.
Marex revenue growth this year so far was better than in 2011 and the bottom line had also improved, Isaacs said, declining to provide figures.
While Marex does not have any acquisitions in its sights, the environment is good as other firms are feeling pressure from U.S. regulations in OTC business and big banks are being forced to shrink their operations, he added.
“We’re in a period which we view as a buying time,” Isaacs said. “You want to do that during challenging economic environments, when other people for whatever reasons are having to reduce their capacity.”
Last year the firm bought Spectron Group, which operates one of the world’s largest global marketplaces for energy, commodity, freight and environmental products, as well as the global markets unit of Eden Financial. It bought the Pro-Trader division of Schneider Trading Associates this year. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Alison Birrane and Helen Massy-Beresford)