Noble's Star Gasoline Trader Sinenko Said to Join Gunvor

(Bloomberg) -- Gunvor Group Ltd. has wooed Noble Group Ltd.’s star gasoline trader to join its expanding U.S. operations as an exodus from the struggling Asian trading house continues amid asset sales and a debt restructuring.

Dmitri Sinenko, one of Noble’s top performing oil traders, has agreed to join Gunvor’s U.S. operations, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the hiring hasn’t been announced.

Sinenko is widely seen by rivals as one of the top U.S. gasoline traders, famous for taking large positions on the Colonial Pipeline that links the refining corridor in the Gulf of Mexico to the consumer markets of the East Coast. The U.S. gasoline market is the world’s largest, accounting for roughly one in 10 barrels of oil consumed worldwide.

The hire is a major staffing coup for Gunvor as it executes plans to expand its U.S. operations from about 30 to around 50 employees by the end of the year. He was with Noble for about a decade, according to his LinkedIn page. 

Sinenko didn’t respond to messages seeking comment. A spokesman for Gunvor in Geneva and a Noble spokeswoman declined to comment.

Several former Noble traders, including Rich Brockmeyer who now heads Gunvor’s U.S. gas trading, have joined Gunvor’s Stamford and Houston operations as it bulks up operations in the Americas. Sinenko’s move to Gunvor was first reported by Opis.

Asset Sales

Many key Noble Group executive contracts and claw-back provisions were due to expire in early December, Bloomberg reported last week.

As Noble and its creditors wrestle over a $3.5 billion debt restructuring, the company that was once Asia’s largest commodities trading house agreed to sell its U.S. gas and power unit to Swiss-based Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. and its U.S. oil-liquids business to Vitol Group.

The most valuable asset in Noble Group’s oil unit is a long-term contract for shipping via the Colonial Pipeline, the biggest conduit for moving fuel from the U.S. refining centers of Texas and Louisiana to high-demand East Coast markets. The company said in a 2015 presentation that it was the largest non-refiner shipper on the Colonial pipeline.

Vitol valued Noble’s long-term contract for shipping via the Colonial Pipeline at $105 million, according to the agreement, seen by Bloomberg. That makes it the largest component of the so-called base purchase price, listed as $222 million.

Share Decline

Vitol has until Dec. 4 to give Noble Group a list of employees whose services it intends to retain, and it may make an offer of employment to them at its sole discretion, according to the agreement.

Noble shares have lost more than 90 percent of their value this year as the struggling firm racked up more than $3 billion in losses. That was due, in part, to writedowns on the value of some long-term commodities contracts that were at the center of accounting criticisms leveled against the company more than two years ago by the anonymous group Iceberg Research.

Noble has said it will cut staff to about 400 from 900 after it completes the sales of its gas and power unit and oil business.

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