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RBS Sempra Commodities Unit Turns to Lehman Alums

The joint trading venture between the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and San Diego-based Sempra Energy, RBS Sempra Commodities, announced two more top executive selections Tuesday, which means the successful energy and metals trading operation is now under the control of three former top executives from bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

The Stamford, CT-based joint venture announced the appointments of Satu Parikh as managing director and president of RBS Sempra, and Maximilian Coreth as managing director and head of North American power operations. Both report to another Lehman alum, Kaushik Amin, the CEO who joined the joint trading business in May (see Daily GPI, May 7).

Amin predicted that RBS Sempra is headed toward "significant growth" in its commodities business in the "next few years" through both "organic growth and captured synergies" that can be developed between the trading operations and the RBS global banking business.

The joint venture has been fully operational for little more than a year, and its long-time CEO David Messer abruptly quit earlier this year (see Daily GPI, March 26).

In a first-quarter earnings conference call last month, Sempra reported that it earned a net $114 million from the joint trading operations, compared with $59 million in the same period in 2008. And the results came as RBS Sempra was in the midst of finishing a year-long integration program that included the move into new quarters in Stamford, CT, in a newly constructed RBS building, being co-located with the United Kingdom-based bank's North American headquarters.

The new building was designed to combine the other bank trading floor operations to create an operation boasting 700 traders -- one of the largest trading floors in North America, according to Sempra CEO Don Felsinger.

To run this operation, Parikh brings 12 years of experience from Lehman Brothers where most recently he was global head of commodities from 2006 to 2008. "He worked for the firm in New York and Tokyo and previously held several senior level positions at the firm, including heading rates, foreign exchange and commodities trading for the Asian region," a Sempra spokesperson said.

Coreth was most recently Lehman's head of North American gas and power trading. Previously he was part of the Morgan Stanley's power business in New York (2001-2008).

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