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Deutsche snaps at heels of commodities leaders

Bank claims to be ahead in five-year commodities strategy; Certain rivals suffer profit decline

Declining commodities revenue at rival firms is allowing Deutsche Bank to burst into the top league in commodities, the German bank claims.

Among global banks, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are the traditional twin leaders in global commodities trading. Their lead will be hard to beat, says one banker, especially in physical trading, where capabilities are best built up over decades.

Nonetheless, other banks, notably JPMorgan, are eager to catch up. Commodity trading is a strategic growth priority for Deutsche Bank. But Deutsche is by no means the only firm eager to use commodities trading to replace revenue lost elsewhere. JPMorgan’s team in commodities, for example, has grown to about 500 people in recent years. Barclays Capital has also grown in commodities thanks to its acquisition of the north American investment banking and trading business of Lehman Brothers and parts of the commodities business of UBS.

David Silbert, global head of commodities at Deutsche Bank, tells Euromoney his firm has managed to grow revenue in the first part of 2010 even while rivals’ earnings have fallen. Silbert says this is partly because rivals’ one-off gains in the first half of 2009 were not repeated in 2010, while Deutsche Bank’s profit growth in commodities has been more sustainable.

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