Citibank has hinted there won't be any possible layoff and closure of physical branches in the countries it is exiting.
World stocks extended a five-day run of fresh highs on Thursday, fueled by upbeat earnings and strong U.S. economic data that point to a solid recovery ahead, while Russian markets tumbled at the prospect of the harshest U.S. sanctions in years. A tumble in the 10-year U.S. Treasury note below 1.6% to yield 1.5496%, a fall of 8.6 basis points, helped spur renewed buying of big tech stocks and drive MSCI's benchmark for global equity markets up 0.80% to fresh peaks. The all-country world index, a benchmark heavily weighted to Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc, is up about 8.5% for the year as growth rose 1.4% and value 0.4% on Thursday, as measured by the Russell 1000 indexes.
The defense team for Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, will ask a Canadian court to delay upcoming hearings in her U.S. extradition case, the court said on Friday. Meng's U.S. extradition hearings have lasted more than two years and she is scheduled to be back in the British Columbia Supreme Court on April 26. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the application was a result of an agreement announced last week in a Hong Kong court between Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and HSBC regarding publication of internal documents relating to the fraud allegations against Meng.
(Bloomberg) -- A senior Bank of Japan official played down the potential for China’s digital yuan to threaten the dollar’s position as the world’s main reserve currency.“The dollar’s status as the key global currency won’t change so easily,” said Kazushige Kamiyama, head of the BOJ’s payment systems department and the person in charge of looking into a virtual Japanese currency. “In fact, the dollar’s advantage may strengthen further if the U.S. goes with digitalization.”A report earlier this week showed the Biden administration is increasing its scrutiny of China’s progress toward a digital yuan amid concern it could kick off a long-term bid to displace the dollar.The People’s Bank of China has moved closer to becoming the first major central bank to launch a virtual currency, rolling out a trial for consumers and businesses in cities across the country.The PBOC has been working on a digital currency since 2014 and its moves have heightened interest among central banks and policy makers, while the spread of cryptocurrencies has added to a sense that competitors to regular cash could change how the financial sector operates.The pandemic has also accelerated the use of cashless payments, even in Japan where banknotes and coins are still used in a majority of transactions.Kamiyama said the BOJ had no specific plans for a pilot test at this point, but he denied that the central bank was lagging its peers.“The BOJ isn’t behind” in the study of a digital currency, Kamiyama said.The BOJ started the first phase of its own technical experiments on digital currencies last week and is participating in group studies on them with the Bank for International Settlements and six major central banks including the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.The group in October said the introduction of digital currencies shouldn’t undermine the stability of the current financial system.“No single digital currency from a central bank is likely to conquer the world as long as everyone continues to work on improving their settlement systems,” Kamiyama said.(Updates with more comments from Kamiyama)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Bitcoin takes a breather as billionaire investor Mike Novogratz warns of market correction.
China has given domestic and international banks permission to import large amounts of gold into the country, five sources familiar with the matter said, potentially helping to support global gold prices after months of declines. China is the world's biggest gold consumer, gobbling up hundreds of tonnes of the precious metal worth tens of billions of dollars each year, but its imports plunged as the coronavirus spread and local demand dried up. With China's economy rebounding strongly since the second half of last year, demand for gold jewellery, bars and coins has recovered, driving domestic prices above global benchmark rates and making it profitable to import bullion.
Option traders continue to snap up cheap out-of-the-money call option at the $80,000 strike.
Bitcoin tumbled more than 4% on Friday after Turkey's central bank banned the use of cryptocurrencies and crypto assets for purchases citing possible "irreparable" damage and transaction risks. In legislation published in the Official Gazette, the central bank said cryptocurrencies and other such digital assets based on distributed ledger technology could not be used, directly or indirectly, to pay for goods and services. The decision could stall Turkey's crypto market, which has gained momentum in recent months as investors joined the global rally in bitcoin, seeking to hedge against lira depreciation and inflation that topped 16% last month.
(Bloomberg) -- The physical crude market in Asia has been reinvigorated amid a rise in buying by a Chinese mega-refiner as well as some Japanese oil companies, boding well for improved consumption.Rongsheng Petrochemical Co. came to the market early this month to snap up about 7 million barrels of Middle Eastern varieties for June-July delivery. That’s up from 5 million barrels bought in March, and puts it on course for the biggest monthly purchase since October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In addition, spot differentials of Russia’s ESPO cargoes have started off stronger, trading $1 above the last reported deal.The pick-up in activity across the key Asian market comes amid a flurry of signs that global oil consumption is improving as economies including the U.S. shake off the impact of the pandemic. This week, both the International Energy Agency and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries issued positive outlooks, even as the cartel and its allies plan to ease supply curbs. So far in 2021, Brent futures have soared 30%, and last traded near $67 a barrel.In Asia, traders had been waiting for further signs of improved demand across the region after buying of spot cargoes by China was muted in March, weakening the overall Asian physical market. That retreat of Chinese buyers coincided with its bigger intake of U.S.-sanctioned Iranian crude, and as higher prices and the backwardated market structure incentivized local de-stocking.While the spot crude purchases of China’s smaller independent refiners will be observed in the coming days, the nation is clearly leading the global recovery in oil consumption. Its refineries processed near-record volumes of crude last month, contributing toward record economic growth in the first quarter.See also: China’s March Apparent Oil Demand Rises 22.5% Y/yRongsheng’s Singapore unit purchased 6 million barrels of Abu Dhabi’s Murban and Upper Zakum, along with a further 1 million barrels of Qatar’s Al-Shaheen for delivery to Zhoushan, according to traders who asked not to be identified.Rongsheng is not alone, with Japanese refiners also out early to secure Middle Eastern supplies. In addition, other processors such as Thailand’s PTT Pcl and Japan’s Fuji Oil Co. issued tenders on Friday to purchase sour grades from the Persian Gulf, of which results will most likely surface next week.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Warren Buffett's famous economic measurement shows Orman might be onto something.
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. refrained from designating any trading partner as a currency manipulator in the Biden administration’s first foreign-exchange policy report, even as Switzerland, Taiwan and Vietnam met thresholds for the label.The Treasury Department said Friday that those three economies met criteria for the manipulator label, including a large trade surplus with the U.S. But it said there was “insufficient evidence” to conclude that the three trading partners showed the intent of “preventing effective balance of payments adjustments or gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade” to apply the tag.A Treasury official told reporters that the decision not to designate any nation a manipulator should not be seen as a mixed message. In December, the last report done under President Donald Trump designated Switzerland and Vietnam as manipulators.The new assessments signal the Biden administration is taking a less confrontational approach to international currency policy after Trump labeling of China and other countries as manipulators proved ineffective and spurred concerns of politicization.The latest report assesses currency activities through 2020.Covid ImpactThe U.S. acknowledged that the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the global economy led to creative policy responses by governments and central banks. For that reason, the Treasury said it seeks a deeper understanding of Switzerland’s, Taiwan’s and Vietnam’s currency actions in order to determine if the interventions were done with the intent of gaining an unfair trade advantage, or to cope with the crisis.Ireland and Mexico were added to the Treasury’s watch list, which means they met two of the three criteria for designation. The Treasury kept China, Thailand, India, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Singapore and Malaysia on the monitoring list.The agency said China’s “failure” to be more transparent around activities at state-owned banks warrants close monitoring. Those banks can act in currency markets with official guidance due to close relationships with China’s central bank.“Treasury is working tirelessly to address efforts by foreign economies to artificially manipulate their currency values that put American workers at an unfair disadvantage,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement accompanying the report.The manipulator tag has no specific or immediate consequence, beyond any short-term market impacts. But the law requires the administration to engage with the trading partners to address the perceived exchange-rate imbalance. Penalties, including exclusion from U.S. government contracts, could be applied after a year unless the label were removed.Trump EraDuring the Trump era, the Treasury abruptly designated China a manipulator in mid-2019 outside its usual release schedule, only to lift the label five months later to win concessions in a trade deal. The developments raised concerns that the report was being increasingly politicized.That, combined with the December manipulator designations being defied by Switzerland and Vietnam who did not change their policies as a result, has called into question the credibility of Treasury’s foreign-exchange assessments.These concerns continue under Yellen.In 2019, her predecessor Steven Mnuchin used the older of the two active trade laws that inform Treasury’s currency assessments to label China a currency manipulator. Now, Yellen is using that same law to decide that no nation warrants the designation.“The inconsistent use of the same criteria by successive administrations certainly undercuts the notion of the Treasury currency report being a dispassionate and nonpolitical evaluation of other countries’ currency practices,” said Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University who formerly worked in the International Monetary Fund’s China division.Still, he said that Yellen’s “less overtly political approach” may restore some credibility.Swiss officials have repeatedly denied that they are manipulating the franc, and have continued the nation’s purchases of foreign currencies as part of a long-running campaign to fight deflation through negative interest rates and currency intervention.The Treasury noted the impact of monetary policy objectives on the franc, and said it is is in talks to develop “specific actions” to address the causes of Switzerland’s external imbalances.Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund gave the Swiss National Bank a green light for its purchases of foreign exchange, while also recommending that officials follow counterparts with a strategy review.TaiwanThe U.S. moved Taiwan from its watch list to the separate list of those meeting all three criteria for distortionary currency policies. As with Switzerland and Vietnam, Treasury officials said Taiwan met the criteria laid out in a 2015 law by a wide margin, but declined to name the country as a “manipulator” under a related 1988 act.Taiwan widely exceeded the thresholds for all three criteria, and the U.S. urged the nation to create a plan to address the causes of its currency undervaluation.Taiwan’s central bank has acknowledged intervening in foreign exchange markets to pare gains by Taiwan’s currency against the dollar. Daily efforts to stabilize the Taiwan dollar began in earnest in June 2020 until September. Since then, it appears that the bank has been managing the currency’s appreciation.The bank’s governor, Yang Chin-long, said in March he believed the U.S. might designate Taiwan a currency manipulator, but he didn’t expect serious negative impact for the local economy, given robust U.S. demand for semiconductors. Semiconductors, he said, were the main factor driving Taiwan’s trade surplus with the U.S.As for the dollar, the Treasury highlighted that even after its decline in 2020, it remained “nearly 5% above its 20-year average,” considering the real effective exchange rate -- which adjusts for inflation and is weighted against currencies of U.S. trading partners. (Updates with additional details from 18th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Mortgage rates in the U.S. fell for a second straight week, slipping to the lowest level in more than a month.The average for a 30-year loan was 3.04%, down from 3.13% last week and the lowest since early March.The decline gives Americans another shot at borrowing costs near the lowest on record -- either for purchasing homes or refinancing current loans. Rates plunged last year as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, with the 30-year average hitting a low of 2.65% in January. They shot up since then, as optimism increased for an economic rebound.This week, yields for the benchmark 10-year Treasuries slipped as vaccinations hit a bump and investors speculated that the recent rise in inflation will be temporary.“While this is welcome news for homebuyers already grappling with low supply and double-digit price gains,” Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com, said in an emailed statement, “the break could be temporary with the upward trend resuming as the outlook for the economy brightens.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese regulators have asked some banks not to withhold loans to embattled asset management giant China Huarong Asset Management Co, as part of support measures to stabilize its cash flow and reduce the risk of market contagion, sources told Reuters. Huarong is one of China's four biggest distressed asset management companies (AMCs) which counts the Ministry of Finance as its biggest shareholder. That is the latest in the troubles for the distressed-debt manager whose failed investments and expanded businesses have forced it into restructuring talks since 2018 and whose Chairman Lai Xiaomin was executed in January after a graft probe.
U.S. technology and growth stocks have taken the market's reins in recent weeks, pausing a rotation into value shares as investors assess the trajectory of bond yields and upcoming earnings reports. Technology has been the top-performing S&P 500 sector in April, rising 8% versus a 5% rise for the benchmark index. Big tech-related growth stocks in other S&P 500 sectors such as Amazon Inc, Tesla Inc and Google-parent Alphabet Inc have also charged higher.
Gold jumped to its highest in over a month on Thursday as the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields retreated despite better-than-expected U.S. economic data, pushing more investors to bullion as a refuge against possible inflation ahead. Spot gold rose 1.7% to $1,766.13 per ounce by 11:07 a.m. EDT (1507 GMT), having earlier risen to $1,767.60, its highest since Feb. 26. "A massive amount of inflation is certainly on the horizon and gold is just the best asset to own as we start to see what I would consider some historic levels of inflation," said Jeffrey Sica, founder of Circle Squared Alternative Investments.
Gold prices rose to a seven-week high on Friday and were on track for their best week since mid-December as retreating U.S. Treasury yields and a softer dollar bolstered the metal's appeal. Spot gold jumped 0.9% to $1,779.00 per ounce by 10:26 a.m. EDT (1426 GMT), having earlier hit its highest since Feb. 25 at $1,783.55. "We've had many investors abandon some positions because of some extreme technical selling we saw with Treasury yields and that has really provided a strong backdrop here for gold prices to continue to appreciate."
(Bloomberg) -- Vale SA, one of iron ore’s biggest swing factors, may determine whether prices of the steelmaking ingredient break through to multiyear highs or retreat once again.The Rio de Janeiro-based mining company reports quarterly production after the close of trading Monday. Anything significantly below the 72 million-metric ton average analyst estimate is likely to be cheered by bulls.Since surging last year amid robust demand from Chinese steel mills and pandemic-related supply disruptions, iron ore futures have moved around in a trading range of about $145 to $175 a ton. With prices back toward the top of that range, traders will be paying close attention to Vale. A bumper quarter may send futures back down.While Vale’s output is expected to come in below the fourth quarter on seasonal factors, it’s estimated to be higher than the same period last year as the company continues its recovery from an early-2019 tailings dam disaster that prompted shutdowns. The ramp-up means Vale has an outsized impact on prices in a tight market, especially after Chinese steel output jumped in March. This year, Vale is expected to account for 83% of global supply growth, according to BloombergNEF.Read More: Vale’s Iron Mining Activity Slowed in 1Q, Satellites Show: BNEFThe combination of recovering production and high prices has sent earnings back to supercycle levels of a decade ago. With management focused on existing assets rather than splashing out on deals as it did in previous booms, Vale is rewarding investors with dividends and a buyback.Its Sao Paulo-listed shares have more than doubled in the past year, narrowing a valuation discount to peers Rio Tinto Group and BHP Group, whose Australian mines are closer to China. Vale fetches 4.6 times estimated profit versus BHP’s ratio of 12 and Rio Tinto Group’s 7.8.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe is considering penalizing domestic banks, telecommunications operators and other businesses over what the government describes as profiteering off the hard currency it makes available at auctions.Lenders could face fines and suspensions, while companies that charge a premium for foreign exchange may be banned from participating in the auctions, central bank Governor John Mangudya said in a phone interview from the capital, Harare.“All the malpractices will be targeted,” he said. “There’s no need to chase foreign currency as if it will run out.”President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday threatened unspecified actions against “sharks in the financial sector,” according to the state-owned Herald newspaper, which said unidentified entities are profiteering at the public’s expense. The president’s comments were made during a wide-ranging interview he gave to state-owned television that will be aired on April 17 on the eve of Independence Day celebrations, the paper said.Exchange ClosedMnangagwa has previously issued warnings to private companies he blames for undermining his efforts to turn around an economy plagued by annual inflation of 241% and foreign-currency shortages.Last year, his government closed the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange for five weeks and singled out the largest mobile operator, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd., for undermining the nation’s currency through its mobile-money service. Econet denied the allegations.The impending action is an attempt to prevent manipulation of the foreign-currency auction system, according to the Herald. The system has provided over $800 million to companies since its introduction in June, though high demand for U.S. dollars by importers means that there is only a limited supply.Monetary authorities met with the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe on April 12 to discuss “due diligence and know-your-customer requirements” in order to ensure economic stability, Mangudya said.Ralph Watungwa, president of the Banker’s Association of Zimbabwe, didn’t immediately answer two calls to his mobile phone seeking comment.Zimbabwe reintroduced its own currency in 2019 after a 10-year hiatus and has been battling bouts of high inflation and shortages of everything from foreign currency to food. The local unit, which was pegged at parity to the U.S. dollar as recently as February 2019, has plunged to 84 per U.S. dollar.The gap between the official exchange rate and parallel market has widened by 36%, with a U.S. dollar selling for 115 Zimbabwean dollars on the streets of Harare.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The fight to buy Hertz Global Holdings Inc. out of bankruptcy is escalating after a group of investors that were previously outbid sweetened their deal to give the reorganized company an enterprise value of around $6.2 billion.The amended proposal from Knighthead Capital Management and Certares Management would pay unsecured bondholders in full, and offer existing shareholders equity in the reorganized company, according to people with knowledge of the plan who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter.The new plan includes a private placement of $750 million in reorganized stock from ad hoc equity investors that would be available to eligible shareholders, the people said. Apollo Global Management agreed to provide $2.5 billion in preferred equity financing as part of the amended proposal, the people said. The deal assigns the reorganized Hertz an equity market value of around $5.5 billion.Hertz shares surged as much as 46% Friday morning in New York to trade at $1.79.Representatives for Knighthead, Certares and Apollo declined to comment. A representative for Hertz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the amended plan.Hertz filed for bankruptcy in May when the near-total shutdown of the global travel industry sent its rental revenues plunging. It became a popular stock among day traders, who sent shares of the bankrupt company soaring, even though common shareholders are typically wiped out in Chapter 11 proceedings. Hertz briefly raised funds for its bankruptcy by selling stock, but abandoned the program after the Securities and Exchange Commission questioned the plan.Earlier this month, Hertz chose a rival offer from Centerbridge Partners, Warburg Pincus and Dundon Capital Partners to help it exit bankruptcy. Under that plan, supporting noteholders agreed to support the exchange of unsecured funded debt claims against Hertz for about 48.2% of the equity in the reorganized company and the right to purchase an additional $1.6 billion of shares.The sweetened offer from Knighthead gives the company a new option to consider as it works to leave court protection. Hertz aims to complete the process in June, and has put tentative restructuring terms in place for review and approval by a bankruptcy judge in Wilmington, Delaware.Hertz is rushing to exit court protection to take advantage of the hot stock market and an expected surge in summer travel as more consumers are vaccinated against Covid-19. The industry is raising prices as business and leisure travel surges and household-name rental companies don’t have enough cars for customers to drive off the lot. Firms are adding cars back to their fleets, but can only do so slowly since a semiconductor shortage has hampered production of new cars. Hertz, like rivals that didn’t file bankruptcy, sold large portions of its inventory and cut costs severely to shore up finances when U.S. travel ground to a halt last year. The amended Knighthead and Certares plan also includes $550 million of cash in a recovery pool that would pay general unsecured creditors in full, the people said. It also includes a 250 million euro ($300 million) interim financing plan to help meet the liquidity needs of Hertz’s international businesses, they added.(Updates with bankruptcy exit background in ninth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta’s companies seemed to be prospering until his main lender, Greensill Capital, imploded last month. But long before Greensill collapsed, several banks had cut off the commodity trading business of Gupta’s Liberty House Group.Four banks stopped working with Gupta’s commodity trading business, starting in 2016, after they became concerned about what they perceived to be problems in bills of lading – shipping receipts that give the holder the right to take possession of a cargo – or other paperwork provided by Liberty, according to interviews with 18 people directly involved in the trades, as well as internal communications seen by Bloomberg News. The banks include Sberbank PJSC, Macquarie Group Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ICBC Standard Bank. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also stopped working with Gupta’s companies around that time.In 2018, Sberbank sent a team to scour the brightly colored containers stacked in the port of Rotterdam, looking for the ones full of nickel that the bank had financed on behalf of Liberty. Yet each time investigators located one of the containers, they found it had already been emptied, according to two people involved in the matter. After checking about 10 of them, they gave up, the people said. Sberbank confronted Gupta at a meeting weeks later. He promised that his company would pay back the roughly $100 million it owed, the people said.“At some point certain discrepancies were spotted within documentation and logistical data, which made Sberbank discontinue all operations with the company,” the bank said in an emailed statement. “The issue was settled in pre-trial format. Thanks to the existing control systems, we incurred no financial losses through these operations and managed to unwind all transactions in the spring of 2019.”GFG Alliance, which is made up of the companies controlled by Gupta and his family, including Liberty, said in an emailed statement sent by a spokesman that it refutes any suggestion of wrongdoing.“An internal investigation was conducted in 2019 by Liberty Commodities Limited (LCL)’s external legal advisors following enquiries regarding alleged rumours of double pledging,” GFG Alliance said in the statement. “The investigation found no evidence to substantiate the rumours, nor was LCL ever subject to further complaints or proceedings.”Double pledging is the practice of improperly raising funds more than once using the same collateral. As several banks dropped Gupta’s commodity trading unit, GFG Alliance came to rely more on Greensill Capital for loans – ultimately racking up debts of nearly $5 billion to Lex Greensill’s trade finance company by March 2021, according to a presentation seen by Bloomberg News. Gupta’s commodity trading business alone has $1.04 billion of debt, of which $846 million is owed to Greensill, according to the presentation. “LCL has ongoing banking relationships with separate financial institutions,” GFG Alliance said in the statement. “Its reliance on Greensill was a natural consequence of the competitive nature of the trade finance market, which has been hugely challenging for all but the very largest commodities traders in recent years.”Now, with Greensill in insolvency and its German subsidiary under a criminal complaint after the regulator said it found irregularities in how the banking unit booked assets tied to GFG Alliance, Gupta is trying to find new financing. But it’s been tough. After Gupta searched for would-be financial backers for weeks, Credit Suisse Group AG – which became a major lender to Gupta’s companies by buying debt packaged by Greensill – moved last month to push Liberty Commodities Ltd. into insolvency. Gupta said in interviews on BBC Radio 4 and Sky News on April 1 that the action made no sense and that he’d litigate it if needed.Lending RisksTraders in the world of commodities have long relied on banks to help finance the flow of goods on their journey from origin to destination. From the banks’ point of view, this type of financing is generally considered low risk. Should the trader run into financial difficulties, the bank can seize its collateral – the cargo – and easily recoup its money. That holds true so long as the shipping paperwork used, such as a bill of lading, is accurate.ICBC Standard Bank stopped financing Liberty’s commodity trading unit by early 2016, after discovering it had presented the bank with what seemed to be duplicate bills of lading, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. Commonwealth Bank of Australia pulled the plug on lending to Gupta’s trading business the same year after the bank financed a cargo of metal for Liberty, only to be presented with what appeared to be the same bill of lading a short time later by another trader seeking a loan, according to three people directly involved.Then, in late 2016, Goldman Sachs, which had extended a credit line of about $20 million to Liberty to finance its nickel trade, stopped dealing with Gupta’s trading company after being warned of alleged paperwork problems by a contact in the warehousing industry, according to three people familiar with the matter.Spokespeople for Goldman Sachs, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ICBC Standard Bank all declined to comment.“No financial institution has been left out of pocket as a result of lending money to LCL,” GFG Alliance said in the statement, referring to Liberty Commodities Ltd. “On the contrary, they have received substantial commercial returns.”By 2016, Liberty had already become one of the world’s largest traders of nickel, according to an interview with Gupta in Metal Bulletin. Still, Liberty’s containers of nickel would sometimes take an unusually long time to travel between Europe and Asia – instead of the normal sailing time of about one month, the voyage would take several months, stopping off at ports along the way for weeks at a time, six people said.Metals trader Red Kite Capital Management, which also cut ties with Liberty, did so because it had become “uncomfortable” with some of the trades, said Michael Farmer, the company’s founder who is also a member of the U.K’s House of Lords. “It was difficult to work out the commercial sense of some of the shipments, which resulted in our decision to err on the side of caution and discontinue such trades,” said Farmer, who is one of the world’s best-known metal traders. “We had no proof of any misdoings.”Savior of SteelGupta was born in Punjab, India, the son of a bicycle manufacturer. He moved to the U.K. as a teenager to attend boarding school and set up Liberty House, his commodities trading business, in 1992 while he was still an undergraduate student at Trinity College, Cambridge. He first hit the headlines in Britain in 2013 when he bought a troubled steel mill in Newport, South Wales, and restarted production at a time when many other steel plants were being closed down. He went on to buy a string of other struggling steelworks, earning him the nickname “the savior of steel.”Gupta’s GFG Alliance isn’t a consolidated group, but a loose conglomerate of more than 200 different entities. The common thread running through both sides of his business, according to six former employees, was a chronic shortage of cash and intense pressure to find new ways to generate financing.On the industrial side of the business, that meant buying one asset after another in rapid succession, including unloved aluminum and steel plants in Yorkshire, England, northern France and South Australia, then borrowing against the business’s own inventory, equipment and customer invoices, often from Greensill.On the trading side of the business, that often meant nickel. Used as an alloying element in the production of stainless steel, nickel is among metals deliverable on the London Metal Exchange, which means that its price can easily be hedged and that banks are usually willing to lend against it; and nickel is expensive, meaning a relatively small amount of space in a ship can hold a valuable cache of metal.The commodity trading business grew rapidly. Revenue rose to $8.41 billion in the 15 months to March 2019, from $1.67 billion in 2012, according to the accounts of Liberty Commodities Group Pte, a Singapore holding company for the trading operations.Delayed DeliveryMacquarie became concerned about the paperwork underpinning some of Liberty’s trades some four years ago, according to four people with direct knowledge of the events as well as written communications seen by Bloomberg News.In one instance, the bank realized that nickel that it was supposed to have received in Antwerp, according to the shipping documentation, wasn’t at the port, according to two people. Liberty eventually delivered the nickel to Macquarie, but at a different port and about two weeks later than was listed in the paperwork.It wasn’t the only time Macquarie’s team had discovered discrepancies in Liberty’s paperwork, the people said.At a meeting in Macquarie’s London offices, executives from the bank grilled Gupta and his top lieutenants about the inner workings of the commodity trading business, three of the people said. Macquarie remained unsatisfied with the explanations, and by mid-2017, the bank had made the decision to stop all financing for Liberty, the people said.A spokesman for Macquarie declined to comment on the matter.After that banking relationship ended in acrimony, Gupta’s companies turned to Sberbank. When that link, too, soured, they became even more reliant on Greensill.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.