Tony Teo of Enuit’s Singapore office says that things have slowed a bit there recently, aggravated by the ongoing fallout from the lockdown but, more importantly, by a series of scandals that have rocked the industry. “There have been several cases of trading houses in trouble,” he said. “This has made banks leerier about providing finance and credit and resulted in more due diligence and even the prospect of Government regulations.” Indeed, last spring saw the collapse of Agritrade International. Then Hin Leong trading was named in a $3 billion oil trading scandal the previous summer. Just last week, a director of Envy Global Trading was charged with two counts of cheating and two of fraudulent trading. Singapore banks responded with a new code of best practice for the provision of trade finance to the commodities sector announced in January. “Trading houses are having some trouble getting credit,” Mr. Teo told us. As a result, activities have slowed somewhat in the region, with companies slower to make decisions, he says.
Despite that, he still sees good activity levels and a promising pipeline of opportunities and expects to see some closures of new deals soon. Meanwhile, Enuit is involved in around ten existing projects in the region, he said, all of which are continuing unaffected. “I’d describe it as very busy, but decisions are definitely slower,” he said. The sales process remains dominated by RFI/RFP’s for medium and larger buyers, but smaller firms often move faster in order to save money by managing their own informal processes, he told me.
On the back of Enuit’s success in the region, it now has around 33 staff in Singapore and Japan and is looking to add to its staff in Tokyo, he said. Enuit signed three new customers in the region last year and also had numerous extensions with existing customers. At the moment, Mr. Teo sees LNG as an area with potential with companies trying to extend into LNG, particularly in Japan. Another trend is one of moving to more risk models and stress testing as historical price trends have broken down with the ongoing lockdowns. Enuit is also starting to promote and market its Commodity Management solution Entrade Unite, in the region.