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Sudden death for UBS’ few remaining commodities traders

UBS’ commodities business was dealt a fatal blow this morning when the Swiss bank revealed its intention to pull out of commodities trading altogether (along with real estate, securitization and prop trading).

It’s unlikely to come as a particular shock to anyone in London though – the commodities business at Broadgate is practically non-existent.

“UBS used to trade oil, gas, power and emissions,” says one headhunter. “But they got rid of most of those people at the start of this year. They’ve now got a power trader, a structured commodities trader and a few others. There’s not much more than 6-8 commodities people left.”

Most of UBS’ commodities traders are now based in the US, meaning cuts will be focused across the Atlantic. According to Dow Jones, UBS is retaining its exchange traded derivatives commodity business and OTC trading in precious metals, but exiting OTC trading in commodities, including power and gas, agriculture, oil and base metals.

Commodities headhunters in London say new jobs here are getting harder and harder to come by – Credit Suisse, Citigroup, and BarCap have been hiring opportunistically but a lot of teams are now full. Utilities and physicals houses are still hiring though.

Another headhunter says most of Lehman’s senior commodities people have been re-housed in hedge funds. However, Jean Luc Dubois and Paul Barwell, who ran European commodities and energy trading at Bank of America respectively, and lost their jobs when BofA closed its commodities trading business earlier this year, have yet to resurface.

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