(Bloomberg) — By 2:08 p.m. Shanghai time on March 8, it was clear that Xiang Guangda’s giant bet on a fall in nickel prices was going spectacularly wrong. Futures had just skyrocketed above $100,000 a ton and his trade was more than $10 billion underwater.
It was threatening not only to bankrupt Xiang’s company, but to trigger a Lehman Brothers-like shock through the entire metals industry and possibly topple the London Metal Exchange itself.
But Xiang was calm. Within hours, more than 50 bankers had arrived at his office wanting to hear how he planned to respond to the crisis. He told them simply: “I’m confident that we will overcome this.” And he did.
Four months on, the nickel price is falling, as Xiang had predicted. The coterie of banks led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. that were baying for his blood has been repaid. He has closed out nearly all his short position in nickel, making a loss on the trade of about $1 billion — a manageable sum given the profits being generated elsewhere in his business empire, say people who know him.
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