VTB Group to add Commodities staff in Moscow, London, Singapore

16 February 2009

Bloomberg, 13.02.2009

VTB Group, Russia’s second-biggest bank, plans to hire more commodities staff in Moscow, London and Singapore this year as customers’ need to protect against falling raw-materials prices raises the potential for profits.

“We could easily add 10, 15 more people” to the current staff of fewer than 20 for raw materials, Sergei Timokhovitch, managing director and global head of commodities at Moscow-based VTB’s VTB Capital, said today in an interview in London. He declined to be more specific about the size of the current staff.

The UBS Bloomberg CMCI Index of 26 raw materials has slid by half from a record in July after simultaneous recessions in the U.S., Japan and Europe curbed demand for commodities from crude oil to copper. Oil is trading around $35 a barrel, down from a record $147.27 a barrel in July.

“We see an increased need for effective risk management, especially for clients exposed to commodities,” Timokhovitch, 39, said. Oil probably won’t rebound to $100 this year, he said.

New hires will be a mixture of analysts, sales staff and marketing and trading workers, with London the trading base, he said. VTB expanded into commodities less than eight months ago.

The lender is focusing on energy, platinum and related metals, and copper and other industrial metals, Timokhovitch said, along with steel, coal, freight and exchange-traded agriculture products including sugar and coffee. Clients are in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, he said.

Timokhovitch joined VTB in April after a year at Deutsche Bank AG in Moscow and 11 years with Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., owner of companies from oil refiner Flint Hills Resources LLC to tissue maker Georgia-Pacific.

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Natalia Cherepova
Corporate Communications VTB Capital