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Trafigura's metals trading chief quits as exodus deepens

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NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - Trafigura global metals and minerals trading chief Simon Collins has quit for personal reasons, the commodities merchant said on Friday, the most senior in a string of high-profile departures from the massive division.

Group Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Weir, who used to run mining and market risk, has taken over the division, Trafigura said. The unit is the company's second-largest after its energy operation and handles metals from Brazilian iron ore to Congolese copper.

For Weir, the additional role comes just over a year since he was appointed CEO after Claude Dauphin, who is also Trafigura's co-founder, required medical treatment. Dauphin remains closely involved with the company's activity as its executive chairman.

Collins' shock exit from one of the most powerful jobs in global metals trading follows other changes at board level and within the metals division that have drawn notice in the close-knit market.

In March, Chief Financial Officer Pierre Lorinet announced plans to leave later this year.

Last month, Barry Marshall, co-head of global refined metals, retired, and Bojan Kuzmanic, a senior lead and zinc concentrates trader, left.

Reuters has identified 14 other metals traders and support staff from Johannesburg to Geneva who have left this year.

"The metals and minerals division continues to expand its activities and with an experienced management team deliver robust, profitable growth," Weir said in a statement.

Collins, who is British, was with the company for nine years, including the past three as metals chief and a board member. He was previously at privately held Gerald Metals.


The division reported a $119 million decline in gross profit and traded almost 50 million tonnes of material in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, the annual report showed.

Metal volumes stabilized around 11 million tonnes over the past four years, while minerals activity more than doubled to 38 million tonnes, due mainly to coal, where Trafigura ranked itself third in the world.

Collins' departure also comes at a challenging time for the broader market as prices like coal and iron ore hit multiyear lows and spot activity has stalled, traders said.

Earlier this month, Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg blamed high production and a growing surplus in markets like coal for the company's falling share price.

Merchants have also struggled to secure business as lenders in China, the world's top consumer, have tightened credit following a massive warehousing scandal last year, hurting investors and fabricators' ability to finance business. (Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Von Ahn)