Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. is expanding its commodity trade finance business with a new desk in Amsterdam, just as banks start to boost lending to the sector.
The Japanese bank hired Natalia Kasyanova to lead the effort, overseeing clients in Europe, MUFG said in a statement to Bloomberg on Friday. She was previously with digital trade finance firm Komgo SA and will report to Atakan Akkaya, the bank’s head of commodity finance in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“MUFG can today confirm the launch of a new commodity finance desk in Amsterdam,” the bank said, adding it has been “progressively expanding” its commodity finance business over the past decade with desks covering energy, metals and agriculture.
Loans to commodity traders have started to increase again after European banks including BNP Paribas SA, Societe Gererale SA and ABN retrenched or pulled out of the market altogether following a string of fraud cases. The recent pick-up has also been slow as the war in Ukraine triggered turmoil in the industry and forced many to stop financing the movement of Russian metals, oil and grains.
Still, Japanese banks have been increasing their presence ever since the big pull back from European peers. This week, BNP said it was exiting the business in the US, with its book of loans being sold to MUFG, according to people with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because the information was private.
Kasyanova has also previously worked for MUFG as a vice president of commodity finance, and with ABN Amro NV.
Rival ING Groep NV, one of the world’s top financiers of the commodities trade, said last week that it has some room to increase lending as prices rise, but that overall funding to the raw materials industry remains below 2019 levels.