Bank of China’s London commodity centre has achieved significant growth since its launch back in 2014. It has made a number of key hires – with the team now standing at 10 – and is now seeking to take on more active roles in trade finance deals going forward. This year saw the bank awarded the annual Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) mandate for the very first time – and the team tells GTR that being part of the winning group of banks that bid for the deal is a success that they plan on repeating across the board.

“Cocobod was important for us because it was the first time we’ve actually bid for the transaction – a lot of the other transactions we’ve been invited in to join at a senior level,” Bob Angliss, the bank’s deputy head of the commodity centre tells GTR. “We were very pleased to be in the winning group: it just sets a little bit of a marker that we’re here in the market.”

Angliss puts the bank’s success down to the expansion of the team’s human resources, including its most recent hire of Antoine Fille, who specialises in emerging markets, energy, metals and mining. Fille joined the team from Traxys in April.

“We have created a team that understands and has the experience to manage those types of transactions,” Angliss says.

Other key hires have included Stephen Wisdom, who joined as head of middle office from HSBC in 2016, and who is supported by Colin Dray, who joined from Standard Chartered in 2017.

Also joining in 2017 was metals stalwart Michael Marnell, as vice-president, and Gavin McKellar from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, who has taken on the role of vice-president and credit analyst.

Angliss, whose experience lies in oil and gas financing, joined Bank of China in November 2015 having left Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, where he was head of commodity and structured trade finance for seven years. Leading the centre as a whole is Xiao Ping, who has been Bank of China’s head of trade finance, London since October 2012 after transferring from the bank’s Guangdong branch, where she had been deputy general manager of trade finance.

Buoyed by the successful Cocobod bid, Xiao continues to raise her expectations for the team. “Before the team was set up, this kind of business was done by the Emea syndicate centre, but the syndicate team are more focused on the long-tenor projects, structured deals, and mergers and acquisitions,” she says.

She explains that the strategy now is to improve product capability and take on more principal roles. “The bank will aspire to be the lead arranger of strategic transactions of key customers and change the business model of hold to maturity to originate or underwrite to distribute,” she says.

In the immediate future, the bank is focused on expanding the short-term side of the business through increasing the client base and increasing limits for existing clients, Angliss explains.

“We’re steadily but surely progressing,” Angliss says. “We’ve been a little bit careful about how we manage this purely and simply because we want to make sure we can deliver. This is a new business, we can’t afford to have a hiccup yet,” he says.