By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - Energy merchant Freepoint Commodities said on Monday it hired three natural gas traders from hedge fund Sasco to expand its reach into U.S. gas futures, amid a return of volatility that could boost client interest in that market.
Joe Howley, previously chief investment officer at Sasco, joined Stamford, Connecticut-based Freepoint as senior managing director, while traders Brian Lisoski and Garth Camp have come on as vice presidents of trading, Freepoint told Reuters in an email.
The three worked at Westport, Connecticut-based Sasco for about a year. Their move to Freepoint was first reported by energy news portal Sparkspread on Monday.
"These are very significant hires and signals our commitment to growth and willingness to expand our senior leadership on the natural gas trading side of our business," Freepoint President Frank Gallipoli said in the email to Reuters.
Howley, a former Goldman Sachs trader, worked at another hedge fund, Tudor Investment Corp, and for merchant Sempra Energy Trading before going to Sasco. At Freepoint, he rejoins ex-Sempra Energy colleague David Messer, who was formerly president of that energy merchant.
Lisoski and Camp also previously worked at Sempra.
Their move to Freepoint comes as price swings reappear in U.S. gas futures after a sharp winter rally earlier this year.
Freepoint has attracted energy traders over the past two years as it became part of a group of merchants that bought into physical commodity assets such as oil wells and power plants amid tighter U.S. regulations that pushed Wall Street banks out of such physical businesses.
Traders have also left hedge funds to join such merchants, and bigger trading houses like Vitol, for better payouts and a future share in the typically private firms.
(Reporting by Barani Krishnan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)