UPDATE 1-BTG Pactual loses top grain traders amid commodities rout

(Adds background on BTG Pactual and commodities markets, comment from recruiter)

CHICAGO, March 2 (Reuters) - BTG Pactual has lost two top grain traders as the Brazilian investment bank tries to restore investor confidence after its billionaire founder was arrested last year.

The departures come during a commodities rout that is shaking up the leadership of global trading firms and making it more difficult for companies like BTG Pactual to boost profits.

Larry Greenhall, who had been BTG Pactual’s head of grains, oilseeds and sugar trading in New York, left the company in late February, two traders and two other sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The sources declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Carl Desjardins has also left the company, one of the traders said. He was BTG Pactual’s head global grains trader until January and has since become chief trader in Olam International Ltd’s grain division, according to his profile on LinkedIn.

A BTG Pactual spokeswoman declined to comment. Greenhall and Desjardins did not respond to emailed requests for comment and it is not clear why they left.

BTG Pactual has reduced its headcount and is trying to sell various assets to raise cash following founder André Esteves’ arrest in connection with a corruption probe in Brazil in November. Esteves is under house arrest after being released from prison in December.

In January, the company, Latin America’s No. 1 independent investment bank, cut about 18 percent of its Brazil-based staff to reduce costs by 25 percent. The firm has also sold off assets and dismantled trading operations.

Some BTG Pactual employees are still weighing whether to quit the company because of the upheaval, said Michael Goodman, managing partner for hedge fund recruitment firm Long Ridge Partners in New York. He said he had received unsolicited resumes from BTG Pactual employees in units including commodities and proactively contacted other employees.

“Now that the dust has settled, they are looking to explore the outside,” Goodman said.

Global commodity firms have been buffeted by falling prices and volatility that have eroded margins for trading goods from grains to copper.

Last week, Gavilon’s chief executive officer, chief operating officer and head of grains left the U.S. merchant after its parent, Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp, changed the management structure to promote growth.

Last year, privately held global trader Cargill Inc streamlined its executive team to speed up decision making and launched a restructuring that included job cuts. (Additional reporting by Liz Hampton in Houston and Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Tom Brown)