For a Few Days, Essex Becomes Hub for Global Metals Trading

  • LME moves trading to Chelmsford after issue at London building
  • Trading to take place in suburban area until at least Tuesday

It may be only about 40 miles from the City of London, but the ancient market town of Chelmsford has never been counted as a global financial center.

Yet, for at least a few days this week, the commuter-belt community in the county of Essex northeast of London will host Europe’s last open-outcry trading floor. The London Metal Exchange, where $12 trillion of copper and other metals change hands each year, has moved to a warehouse after its new building was forced to close because of a structural issue on a higher floor.

Trading, clearing and other systems are operating as normal, the LME said.

The windowless disaster-recovery site at Chelmsford’s Springfield Business Park hosts a replica of the LME’s floor known as the Ring, where smartly-dressed traders shout out orders from red leather sofas arranged in a six-meter (20-foot) diameter circle. Trading will take place there on Monday and Tuesday because there will be no access to its 10 Finsbury Square building until at least Wednesday.

It’s “business as usual,” Philip Smith, chief executive office for Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia at INTL FCStone Ltd., one of nine companies entitled to trade on the floor, said by phone. “From my perspective as a ring dealer, this has worked.”

New Building

The LME, the world’s biggest metals marketplace, moved to London’s Finsbury Square from its old Leadenhall Street home early this year. The exchange said Sunday staff will be working from Chelmsford, London’s Wapping district, or home. Chelmsford, which was granted city status in 2012, has been the LME’s chosen disaster-recovery site since 2008.

Essex is where many metals traders hail from and trading at the Chelmsford site takes place a few times a year, most recently last week. The city, about a half-hour journey from London’s Liverpool Street station, counts a racecourse, cathedral and a nearby tropical zoo as its top attractions. It was also home to the first radio factory opened by Guglielmo Marconi in 1899.

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