January 9, 2017 / 5:21 PM / a year ago

Morgan Stanley commodities executive Hart, who helped build physical business, retires

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley executive Debbie Hart, who helped to grow the bank’s physical commodities businesses, has retired from the bank, a spokesman confirmed on Monday.

Hart, who spent 23 years at Morgan Stanley, most recently served as the chief operating officer for the bank’s North American power and gas business.

She retired at the end of 2016, according to an internal memo that was confirmed by bank spokesman Mark Lake.

Hart helped to grow Morgan Stanley’s physical power and gas businesses, including overseeing operations and risk. Over time, she also helped in the construction, management and sale of the bank’s power plants.

Her retirement comes as Morgan Stanley, like other Wall Street banks, has sought to move away from riskier parts of the commodities business, like owning and storing oil.

Post-crisis regulations and a desire to take less risk have molded the bank’s commodities operations into more of a traditional trading business.

In 2015, Morgan Stanley completed the sale of its physical oil business to commodity trading firm Castleton Commodities after the U.S. Federal Reserve pressured Wall Street banks to get out of that type of business.

The transaction ended Morgan Stanley’s three-decade history as a major player in physical oil markets.

Morgan Stanley the same year also sold a compressed natural gas business that came under regulatory scrutiny to Pentagon Energy LLC.

In 2014, Morgan Stanley sold its controlling stake in oil storage business TransMontaigne to NGL Energy Partners LP.

Morgan Stanley’s exposure to physical commodities has dropped to $179 million, down from $9.7 billion in 2011.

Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler

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