Hartree Said to Set Up China JV Trading House in Asia Push

  • Hartree close to starting joint venture with Wanxiang Group
  • Oil trading firm is expanding after adding metals last year

Hartree Partners LP is discussing starting a joint venture with one of China’s biggest trading houses as it bolsters its Asian business, according to two people with knowledge of the plans.

The commodities-trading firm, founded by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. energy traders, plans to form a Shanghai-based venture with Wanxiang Resources Co., a local trading unit of Wanxiang Group Corp., said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The company will trade derivatives and physical commodities, and engage in structured finance, they said.

Several commodity traders expanded in China, the biggest consumer of raw materials, as oil and metals prices recovered. Freepoint Commodities LLC and Castleton Commodities International LLC hired traders in Asia this year. It’s a turnaround from last year, when tumbling markets led firms from Gunvor Group Ltd. to Noble Group Ltd. to scale back.

Hartree, founded in 1997 as Hess Energy Trading Co., has expanded its commodities business in the past year by adding metals and agriculture traders. The firm is owned by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management LP and founding partners Stephen Hendel and Stephen Semlitz.

Wanxiang Group, founded by Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu, is an automotive parts and accessories manufacturer. The company owns Wanxiang Qianchao Co., China’s largest auto-parts maker. The Zhejiang-based conglomerate also has operations in clean energy development and the agriculture industry.

Wanxiang Group didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Oaktree declined to comment.

Foreign companies often need to partner with local entities in order to operate in mainland China.

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