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Trade finance in the internet age

Trade finance debt totals $3 trillion a year.

But institutional investors largely ignore it.

Complicated, non-standardized documents that require physical delivery are enough to deter all but the most dedicated specialists. Now three former Deutsche bankers have re-emerged from obscurity to break that trend, with the world's first internet trading platform for this asset class.

This time last year, if Richard Tull invited you to his office, you could be pretty sure of a gin and tonic in the plush surroundings of Deutsche Bank's Bishopsgate building in London. His colleague, Luigi La Ferla, was a dab hand at offering round the cigars after lunch.

For 10 years, Tull, La Ferla and James Parsons were three of the best-known senior trade Finance bankers in London. They made a profit during the Asian downturn of 1998. La Ferla is as well known for his booming Italian voice, whose accent 20 years in the UK have done nothing to soften.

But then the three of them disappeared.

Rumours that they were not happy with the new structure after Deutsche bought Bankers Trust proved to be true, and they quit.

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