National Australia Bank has hired its first two sales professionals to kick-start its commodities derivatives sales business in the U.S. and has added one staffer to its interest rate derivatives sales team. Robert Cone, senior v.p. and head of the markets division for the Americas in New York, said the firm has also entered into talks with U.S.-based distributors with a view to entering into a joint venture to distribute over-the-counter commodity derivatives products in the U.S., but he declined to name the firms.
Tim Andriesen is joining NAB as a senior v.p. and head of commodity derivatives sales, from Converium, formerly known as Zurich Re, where he was a v.p. in origination. Working under him will be Andrew Ward, assistant v.p. in commodity derivative sales, who joins from Australian commodity distributor AusBulk, where he was a grain merchant. On the interest rate side, Jason Witrock is joining as v.p. in interest rate derivatives sales, from Lehman Brothers where he held a similar position.
The commodities activity is being initiated in order to spread the firm's Australian expertise with agricultural producers to U.S. consumers, said Cone. In particular, Andriesen and Ward will target the top 20 food firms in the U.S., pitching up to three-year OTC derivatives risk in wheat and sugar, and two-year risk in canola. NAB will be one of the few firms in the U.S. offering liquidity at these maturities, as well as allowing quotes to be made in any Group of Seven currency, Cone noted. The firm will also look at other commodities including energy derivatives, such as oil and gas, he added.