SINGAPORE, Feb 22 (Reuters) - U.S.-based Freepoint Commodities said on Tuesday it has expanded its presence in Asia, hiring 25 traders and support staff in the last several months with an eye on opportunities in metals, oil and agricultural markets to meet demand in China.
The expansion puts Freepoint in direct competition with major Swiss commodity traders Glencore and Trafigura , who are also expanding their businesses in Asia.
"Asia in general, and China in particular, are integral to commodity markets, and we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the region through ongoing investment and product expansion," Freepoint's CEO David Messer said in a statement.
Freepoint, headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, has hired 17 traders and support staff in Singapore and eight in Shanghai over the fourth quarter of 2016 and January 2017, bringing its total number of employees to more than 350 globally, the company said in its statement.
"By adding an experienced Asia oil trading team led by Ouyang Xiuzhang and Khoo Teng Siong, we are confident we can better serve our clients in Asia. This is a terrific complement to Freepoint's existing oil business in the Americas and Europe," Freepoint's global head of oil Rob Peck said.
Thomson Reuters reported in July that Noble Group's head of Asia energy and metals Ouyang Xiuzhang and several traders, including Khoo, left that company to join Freepoint's Singapore office.
Freepoint also recently hired a senior crude trader, formerly from Standard Chartered Bank.
Outside oil, Freepoint's head of metals and concentrates business Philip Bacon said China represents half of world metals demand.
"Adding the Shanghai-based refined metals team led by Ouyang will allow us to provide deeper and broader services to our clients in China and globally," Bacon said.
The company has already started trading oil derivatives in Singapore, an industry source who has seen the trades said.
Freepoint also plans to join the Platts Market-on-Close assessment process for physical gasoil, jet fuel and gasoline in Asia, S&P Global Platts said on Feb. 14 on their website, referring to its product pricing platform.
A U.S.-based Freepoint company spokeswoman could not be reached during Asian hours for further details. (Reporting by Florence Tan and Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Tom Hogue)