Westpac eyes China, India for commodities trade growth – executive – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – May 21, 2015)

http://www.reuters.com/

HONG KONG – A recent entrant in Asia’s commodities markets, Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp is ramping up to take advantage of a commodities “supercycle” that it says has at least another 30 years to run.

While some global banks have exited commodities due to more stringent regulations, Westpac is setting itself to support a deeper push into the region by its corporate customers, a senior executive told Reuters.

“The commodity cycle is still in the supercycle phase. The urbanization of Asia has not stopped – all we’re getting at the minute is a correction,” said Paul Gardner, the bank’s Singapore-based Global Head of Structured Commodity Finance.

“When you’re dealing with a 30-40 year window (of a bull cycle), are you really late, or are you just coming to the party at the right time? There were some major players who were in very early and who are already gone.”

Australia’s No. 2 lender by market value has been setting up a commodity trading desk in Singapore over the past 18 months, to focus mainly on lending in metals, as its customers tap Asia’s construction boom.

It is also eyeing the changing diets of Asia’s expanding middle class to push into agriculture, and considering precious metals.

Australian banks are are aiding the overseas expansion plans of their corporate clients amid plunging commodity prices that have killed a mining investment boom at home.

Westpac’s metals-focused commodity trading desk in Singapore has grown to 10 in the past 18 months, bulking up a smaller presence in Sydney and London, Gardner said.

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