BTG Said to Open Commodities-Trading Unit in Argentina

Grupo BTG Pactual (BBTG11), the only investment bank publicly traded in Brazil, opened a commodities-trading unit in Buenos Aires this month, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Julian Roberts will head the business, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public. Roberts worked at agricultural companies El Tejar SA and Bunge Ltd. (BG) before joining BTG, according to his LinkedIn profile. The people didn’t say how many employees will work at the new office.

BTG Chief Executive Officer Andre Esteves, 45, said in January that the company planned to hire 80 bankers for commodities this year, boosting the total to 200, and open offices in Geneva, Houston and Singapore. Esteves called Latin America a hub for commodities and said BTG will focus on grains and metals. Argentina has begun to harvest its largest soybean crop on record.

BTG declined to comment on the new office in Argentina, according to an official who asked not to be named in keeping with company policy. Roberts didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and phone message.

The firm is expanding its commodities business as some of the world’s largest banks scale back, including New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley as well as Barclays Plc, which has its headquarters in London.

The biggest commodities traders in Argentina include the local units of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., Bunge, Cargill Inc., Glencore Xstrata Plc, Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV, Nidera BV and Noble Group Ltd.

Soy Harvest

The soy harvest in Argentina, the world’s largest exporter of soybean oil and derivatives, will total a record 54.5 million tons this season with a total harvest of grains of 100 million tons, according to estimates by the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange.

BTG will also open representative offices with two or three people in Ukraine, Italy and South Africa, Esteves said in January.

The bank hired economist Andres Borenstein to focus on Argentina and head research for South America’s second-largest economy, according to a March 17 report from the company. Borenstein, 42, was previously an economist at the U.K. embassy in Argentina and a professor at Torcuato di Tella university in Buenos Aires.

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