Headhunters recruit oil and gas traders at pub

Sep 05, 2001 02:00 AM

Drinkers at the Mint pub near Tower Bridge tend to take more notice of the trading screen above the door -- its green figures marking the fluctuation of the crude oil and gas market -- than the giant TV over the bar, except perhaps when England are playing. The pub is the lunchtime haunt of the traders from the International Petroleum Exchange across the road, where more than 70 mm barrels of oil and 3 mm tons of gas oil are sold every day.
What better way, then, to tempt traders across the Atlantic -- as part of the ongoing battle for supremacy between the IPE and its New York equivalent -- than setting-up a recruitment stall at the bar? The innovative scheme by headhunters at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) has already seen six of IPE's 200 traders handing in their resignation. A further 10 traders are thought to have signed preliminary documents allowing them to trade Brent crude oil in New York.
Around 15 traders were flown to New York for a more formal recruitment-presentation, after being wooed over a pint of London Pride at the Fuller's-owned pub. Another 15 were thought to have gone out today, their flights and hotels courtesy of NYMEX.

The principal lure of the Big Apple is explained by NYMEX' determination to carry on with traditional "open outcry" trading on the floor, in contrast to IPE's plans to switch to electronic on-screen trading in 12 to 18 months. IPE is the last in London to use full-floor trading, but NYMEX believes there's a future in it. That's proved tempting to some of the London traders, who fear redundancy when the switch takes place.
Phil Glover, 29, originally from Newcastle, who resigned, said: "The attraction of NYMEX is the opportunity to carry on trading in the open-outcry market. It's what we've done for the last 10 years and it's all we know. With electronic trading coming up a lot of us didn't know what to do."
Mr Glover plans to move his wife and two children to New York by Christmas if things work out. NYMEX regards London's traders as among the best in the business, and the volume of trade they can pull in is crucial to its success with the new Brent crude contract. IPE is busy telling traders that, whatever they've been told at the Mint, IPE has the best Brent crude contract.

Director of development Stephen Gutteridge said: "We don't want to lose any of our traders or customers. Good people like that are going to keep their options open. It's not surprising some of them are taking advantage of free flights to evaluate the NYMEX offer but it's a different thing altogether to move to New York. We expect the majority of locals to stay with us."
Not everybody on the IPE trading floor is tempted by a Manhattan move. "Tony", 45, a trader from Essex, said: "I've got three kids, one on the way, and a grandchild. I'm not going to up sticks and move to New York now. For some of the younger, single blokes it makes sense. They can try it and, if it doesn't work out, they can move back." Another trader said: "The Americans are full of hype. It's not for me. As far as I'm concerned what happens with England vs. Albania is more important."

Source: Associated Newspapers Ltd.
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