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The new gold? Head of historic London Metal Exchange quits to lead crypto start-up

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The London Metal Exchange  (PA Wire)
The London Metal Exchange (PA Wire)

London Metal Exchange chief Matthew Chamberlain will leave after five years leading the world’s biggest industrial metals market to run a blockchain-based asset custodian.

Chamberlain will become CEO of Komainu, a company backed by Nomura Securities and CoinShares International, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Adrian Farnham, the head of the LME’s clearing house, will become interim CEO when Chamberlain leaves at the end of April.

Chamberlain leaves after a turbulent year at the LME, which sets global prices for bellwether commodities like copper and aluminum and trades about $64 billion of futures contracts daily.

Relations with some of its biggest brokers have been strained by a fight over whether to close the historic open- outcry trading floor.

Seeing red: traders at the London Metals Exchange go about their business
Seeing red: traders at the London Metals Exchange go about their business

The exchange is also facing declining trading volumes, which fell to the lowest in more than a decade last year even as metal prices surged.

Chamberlain joined the LME in 2012, after advising Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. on its takeover of the bourse while at UBS Group AG.

He rose quickly through the ranks, overseeing a major reform of its warehousing network, and was drafted into the top job at age 34 as the LME battled a backlash from users over rising trading fees and the growing influence of algorithmic trading on the bourse, which traces its roots back to the early 19th century.

While Chamberlain won praise from core users for rolling back some fee increases as part of a package reforms early in his tenure, he faced fury from the LME’s famously fractious user base over a planned move to permanently close the LME’s historic trading floor and move fully to an electronic and phone-brokered market.

Komainu, a crypto custodian launched in 2018 in a venture led by Japanese bank Nomura, operates digital wallets for storage of virtual tokens held primarily by private banks and pension funds.

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