UPDATE 1-ICBC Standard Bank shrinks base metals trading business

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LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - ICBC Standard Bank has reduced its base metals business to cut costs, sources close to the bank said on Wednesday, joining other financial institutions in decreasing exposure to the out-of-favour commodities sector.

Six employees have left ICBC in recent weeks, including Mark Thompson, head of base metals trading, and analyst Leon West gate, three sources said. The bank was not immediately available to comment.

The move was part of an ongoing cost-cutting programme, the sources said.

ICBC Standard Bank was formed in February last year when Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by assets, acquired a 60 percent stake in the global markets business of South Africa’s Standard Bank .

It specialises in commodities, fixed income, currencies and equities.

ICBC is one of China’s so-called ‘Big Five’ state-owned banks that recently warned that profits will continue to be pressured in the second half of the year, as slowing growth in the world’s second-biggest economy hits borrowers and saps lenders’ margins.

In May, ICBC Standard Bank let go three precious metals traders in New York and moved its Dubai business to London, concentrating its activities in Europe and Asia, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Thompson, a former executive at trading house Trafigura’s asset management business, took his post at ICBC Standard Bank in January after working in the metals and financial sector for over two decades.

Thompson joined the bank from privately-owned miner Treliver Minerals, where he was chief executive. Previously he was a partner at Apollo Global Management and co-founder and chief investment officer of Trafigura’s asset management business. (Additional reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by Veronica Brown and Elaine Hardcastle)