Fifth Third Bank has launched a global commodity trader initiative headed by Carol Morse.

Jan-Erik Andersen, senior vice president and group head of international banking at Fifth Third, explains to GTR how the initiative was created: “The bank already had a number of commodity trader names in its portfolio. There was an opportunity here to pull everything to do with global commodity traders into one segment, to do a better job servicing the needs of these companies, and have a better understanding of the industry.

“The initiative also helps us better manage the risks and exposures we take on these various companies, better understand the underlying commodities that they extract and trade. The goal is really to support these companies’ operations in the US. We’re not here to support them in their local markets, but only in the US market.”

The initiative will help the bank develop relationships with its existing clients, as well as “selectively add to the portfolio”. Andersen adds that the European crisis and subsequent pull-back of certain players from the commodity financing sector was a contributing factor, but not the primary driver to the bank’s decision to expand its commodity business.

“Some European banks have pulled back but some of them are coming back, so it certainly wasn’t our primary focus for wanting to have a bigger stake in this market,” he says.

He explains that after looking internally and externally for someone to drive the unit, Fifth Third decided that Morse, an internal candidate with a background in structured finance and commodities and a good understanding of how the bank works on the inside, was best-placed for the job.

“We are now in the process of staffing it up, looking at this from an end-to-end perspective,” Andersen says.

Morse has over 26 years of financial management experience, and has worked for four years as a manager of a group in Fifth Third Bank (Chicago), which focused on exchanges, brokers and dealers, futures commission merchants and proprietary trading firms.