Our traders source a range of physical commodities, both from third-party suppliers and our own production. We also offer value-added services, including financing, processing, storage and logistics that can combine with our scale, reputation and market knowledge to make us preferred partners for many. 

Our customer base is highly diversified, with a high proportion of long-term commercial relationships. Our ability to arrange short- and long-term financing for customers and suppliers provides us with long-term demand for, and supply of, physical commodities.

We focus on maximising fee-like returns, taking into account our extensive global third-party supply base, our logistics, risk management and working capital financing capabilities, extensive market insight, business optionality, extensive customer base, strong market position and penetration in most commodities, as well as economies of scale.

Arbitrage

Many of our markets are fragmented or periodically volatile. As a result, price discrepancies often occur between the prices at which commodities can be bought or sold in different geographic locations or time periods. Other factors include freight and product quality.

These pricing discrepancies can offer us arbitrage opportunities based on our ability to source, transport, blend, store or otherwise process the relevant commodities. While these strategies vary from commodity to commodity, the main opportunities can be generally described as:

 

gographic arbitrage icons

Geographic arbitrage

product arbitrage icons

Product arbitrage

time arbitrage icons

Time arbitrage

Disparity
Pricing differences
for the same
product in different
geographic regions,
taking into account
transportation or
transaction costs

Execution
Leverage global
relationships
and production,
processing
and logistical
capabilities to
source product in
one location and
deliver in another

Disparity
Pricing differences
between blends,
grades or types
of commodity,
taking into account
processing or
substitution costs

Execution
Ensure optionality
with commodity
supply contracts,
and look to lock-in
price differentials
through blending,
processing or end product
substitution
Supply blended or
processed products
that attract a higher
price than their base
constituents

Disparity
Pricing differences
for the same
commodity
when delivered
immediately,
or at a future
date, taking into
account storage
and financing costs
until future date

Execution
Book “carry
trades” that benefit
from competitive
sources of storage
and financing

 

We mitigate any credit (including performance) risk in relation to suppliers and customers through systematically applying measures such as credit insurance, letters of credit, security arrangements, or bank and corporate guarantees.

We also leverage our network of global offices, which have direct access to, and keep close relationships with, our customers and suppliers.

Our marketing teams manage market exposure to acceptably low levels by reducing price risks arising from timing differences between buying and selling commodities. We have comprehensive risk management systems and procedures in place to monitor these activities, established over the past 40 years. Similarly, we have extensive compliance policies and procedures, and use third-party screening software systems to manage compliance with sanctions and other regulations. 

Logistics, transport and storage

Physical commodity sourcing and marketing requires the highest standards in the handling and shipment of goods from supplier to customer, often including storage activities.

We offer a broad range of competitively priced value-added services that includes financing, processing, storage and logistics. Combined with our scale, reputation and market knowledge, this means we often become a preferred purchaser or supplier; it strengthens long-terms relationships with both customers and suppliers. 

Our capabilities

We have a worldwide network of storage and logistics assets in key strategic locations, included LME-accredited metal warehouses and many oil and grain storage facilities. The traffic teams that handle physical movement of goods typically account for a significant proportion of the headcount for each business segment.

We are able to incorporate blending and processing activities (for products that include oil distillates, metal concentrates and coal) with product transport and delivery, in line with contractual quality arrangements.

Access to our shipping fleet and various freight intermediaries also provides useful information on trade flows. Our dedicated chartering teams actively trade freight to gain market knowledge and volume benefits.