Bank of America Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan build commodities teams

Bank of America Merrill Lynch adds one managing director and four directors to its commodities team, while J.P. Morgan has hired seven executive directors this year.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch yesterday announced that it has strengthened its Asia-Pacific commodities team with five senior hires, following the lead of J. P. Morgan which has added seven executive directors in its commodities division this year.

Metals and mining sales and origination at BoA Merrill will be headed by Peter Beaumont, who joins as a managing director based in Sydney. He will report to Diego Parrilla, head of commodities for Asia-Pacific, and to Amrik Sandhu, global head of metals in London. Beaumont was most recently executive director of Greenlight Technology Group and a principal in Greenlight's consulting services. He has 20 years' experience across infrastructure finance, commodities, foreign exchange and interest rate derivatives and has worked with ABN AMRO in Australia as well as with UBS in London, New York, and Sydney. 

Commodities, oil and gas origination will be headed by Paul Wright, who joins as director, based in Singapore. He too will report to Parilla, as well as to Brad Blesie, head of origination and structuring for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Mitch Rubinstein, head of global crude and refined products. Both Blesie and Rubinstein are based in London. Wright has 25 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, most recently at Chevron, where he spent 13 years. He has also worked at British Gas.

John Bao Vu joins as a director and head of complex options trading. He will continue to be based in Hong Kong and will report to Parrilla and to Ken Merideth, co-head of global commodity index and products, who is based in Houston. Vu joins from Deutsche Bank where he was a director in the commodities team. He too has worked at Chevron.

Beaumont and Wright will join BoA Merrill in September, while Vu's starting date is yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, Prakash Shah has rejoined the firm as a Mumbai-based director and head of India commodity solutions. Shah, who reports to Parrilla, left Merrill Lynch last year after a three-year stint with the US bank to join RBS Sempra's India commodity sales and trading group. Shah has also worked at Tower Capital.

Celina Zhang has joined as a director in commodity solutions, with a focus on Greater China. She will continue to be based in Singapore and will report to Parrilla. Zhang was earlier at Goldman Sachs where she was in commodity marketing, focused on energy corporate clients across Greater China. She has also worked at J.P. Morgan and Sempra Energy Trading.

All the hires are part of BoA Merrill's Asia-Pacific team. The US bank has a regional sales and trading hub for commodities in Singapore as well as an onshore presence in Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mumbai, Jakarta and Sydney. Parrilla himself relocated to Singapore earlier this year from BoA Merrill in London, where he was responsible for global commodity sales.

"Asia-Pacific is core to our growth strategy for the platform and we believe these additions to the team will enhance our client-facing capability, investor products, metals, coal, crude and products businesses," David Goodman and Rob Jones, co-heads of global commodities, said in a written statement.

The commodities team build-out is another sign of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch franchise in the region gearing up for business. Kim Hong, Asia-Pacific president at BoA Merrill, told FinanceAsia recently that the merger integration in Asia is over and the big picture for the firm is now in place.

Commodities coverage is an area where other banks have also beefed up their Asia-Pacific teams recently. With Oral Dawe at the helm, J.P. Morgan has doubled the headcount in its commodities team. The bank now has 60 professionals in front office roles within commodities in the region.

Dawe, who is chief executive officer of the Asia-Pacific commodities group at J.P. Morgan, came on board in mid-2008 from Goldman Sachs where he was co-head of Asia commodities and president of the Singapore office. Dawe is responsible for all aspects of J.P. Morgan's commodities business in the region, including sales, trading and principal investing.

J.P. Morgan has added 15 people to its commodities team in 2009 year-to-date, including seven executive directors across divisions.

In commodities sales and structuring the US bank has added: Justin Hyde to head Asia investor sales and structuring; Subhramit Das as senior commodities structurer; and David Max Seng Wang in energy sales.

Hyde has earlier worked with Barclays as head of Asia commodity investor solutions and at Macquarie Bank. Das joined from UBS and has also worked with ABN AMRO. Wang joined from Goldman Sachs.

In the commodities trading division: Damian Yang Meng Au has joined as a senior coal trader from Vitol Asia; Daniel Soong has joined as a senior oil derivatives trader from Credit Suisse; Motoki Iida has joined as a Tokyo-based commodities trader; and Ken Leask has joined as a crude trader. Both Iida and Leask were most recently at Morgan Stanley.

J.P. Morgan now has members of its commodities team based in five locations: Singapore, Japan, India, Australia and Hong Kong.

In sync with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan, Standard Chartered recently reaffirmed its commitment to commodities, promoting Ashish Mittal to global head of commodities sales. 

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