German energy giant E.ON Group will be opening an office in Chicago later this year to trade in the U.S. physical natural gas and power markets.

The Chicago office will start out with a staff of five traders and will be E.ON’s first trading operation outside its trading headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany, according to a company spokesman who confirmed press reports of the company’s foray into the North American market.

E.ON’s energy trading division currently employs more than 1,000 people in Europe and sells a variety of financial products related to natural gas including spots, forwards, index products and location spreads. The company already participates in the U.S. natural gas and power trading markets. Overall, E.ON traded enough gas to generate 2,480 billion kWh, and 89 million metric tons of oil in 2011.

The corporation, whose main business historically has been the ownership and operation of regulated natural gas and electric facilities on the Continent, in the last few years has embarked on a strategy to broaden its operations in renewable power and to world and competitive markets. The new strategy was developed after the company was rocked to its foundations by the German government declaration to abandon nuclear power, and by the European economic crisis.

E.ON’s North American renewable energy unit owns 14 wind farms in the U.S. that have more than 2,000 MW of capacity.

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