Goldman Sachs abandons physical commodities after coal division sale

Goldman Sachs abandons commodities after coal division sale

U.S. regulators have increased pressure on banks to make them get out of risky commodity businesses, particularly those involving the ownership of assets.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), the biggest trading firm on Wall Street, has officially exited the physical commodities business after selling its coal mining division, in Colombia, to Murray Energy last week.

Murray, the U.S. largest underground coal miner, closed the deal Thursday for less than $10 million, marking the end of Goldman’s involvement with physical commodity assets.

The transaction included two surface mines, three undeveloped mines and other infrastructure such as a port and rail cars belonging to Colombia Natural Resources.

The group began disposing mining assets last year as prices for most commodities began a downward trend and U.S. regulators increased pressure on banks to get out of risky commodity businesses, particularly those involving the ownership of assets. Goldman sold off a metals warehousing business and moved to wind down uranium trading last year.

Barclays Plc, the U.K.’s second-largest bank, announced it was exiting commodities businesses other than trading precious metals and derivatives tied to oil, U.S. gas and commodity indexes in April. Earlier in the year, the London-based bank cut jobs in the group that traded raw materials and in February shut power-trading desks in the U.S. and Europe.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. sold in March its raw-materials trading unit to Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. for $3.5 billion, and Deutsche Bank AG sold its metals- and energy-trading books to Citigroup.