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* Trafigura reported big drop in H1 profits (Adding details throughout)
By Chen Aizhu and Florence Tan
BEIJING/SINGAPORE, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Trafigura’s senior crude oil executive in China, Geng Tao, said on Thursday he has left the Swiss commodities trading house, the latest sign that business in the world’s largest crude importer is getting more challenging.
In a phone call, he said he departed the company a few days ago. He did not give a reason for his exit.
Trafigura declined to comment.
His exit follows the appointments of Ben Luckock and Robert Gillon as co-heads of oil for Trafigura last month. In April, the company named Hadi Hallouche as head of oil for Asia while keeping his role as global head of natural gas.
Li Yuting, another senior China-based oil marketer at Trafigura, left the firm last year, said a Beijing-based trading executive briefed on the matter.
Global oil suppliers are facing a more competitive business environment in China this year as demand has slowed from independent refineries due to tighter government tax rules and as oil prices have risen to four-year highs.
In the first half of the year, Trafigura’s profits sank 53 percent due in part to the market shift from a contango, where forward prices of a commodity are higher than prompt prices, to backwardation, which discourages storing oil for sale later. (Reporting by Florence Tan, Aizhu Chen and Meng Meng; writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)