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Commodities broker Marex Spectron has posted record pre-tax profits for 2016 of $27m, the company said on Thursday, as expansion in North America and Asia boosted earnings after years of cost cutting.

Chief executive Ian Lowitt, a former Lehman Brothers executive who took charge of the company in January 2016, said it was positioning to grow its business further, with commodity brokers benefiting from the pull back of many banks from the sector in recent years.

“We’ve weeded out things that weren’t profitable and for the first time in several years we are focused more on growth and growing revenues rather than finding ways to reduce costs,” Mr Lowitt said.

“Institutional investors that used to be covered by banks are now coming increasingly towards companies like Marex Spectron.”

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to a record $37.1m from $31m in 2015, with the company opening a physical oil office in Calgary, the centre of Canada’s oil industry, as well as expanding its US-based energy team. The brokerage also added a metals trading team in Singapore and was the number one broker by volume on the London Metal Exchange.

Mr Lowitt said that the recovery in commodity markets had helped trading volumes with volatility in what he called a “Goldilocks” zone for much of the year.

“There was volatility around Brexit, volatility around President Trump – but not so much that investors step away from the market,” Mr Lowitt said.

He cautioned, however, that the industry remained far away from the boom period in the middle of the last decade when institutional money flooded into commodities trading, spurred by the growth of China and its voracious appetite for raw materials.

“Maybe we’re not at the bottom of the commodity cycle any more but we’re still a long way from the boom period when there was a lot of capital flooding in,” Mr Lowitt said, adding that without driving down costs in the preceding years they would not be able to focus on growth now.

“People have evolved business models,” he said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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