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CEFC Intl's Singapore oil trading team quits: sources

[BEIJING] Singapore-listed CEFC International's oil trading team resigned over the weekend, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The Singapore-based team, including the company's vice president of trading Liu Lei and six members Mr Liu hired over the past six months, decided to quit because of an "internal policy shift" by the company, one of the sources said.

CEFC International, which is involved in petroleum trading and investment in oil and gas assets, expanded its oil trading team after hiring Mr Liu, formerly deputy head of global products trading with PetroChina, in early 2015.

The trading team had expected to concentrate on oil trading, but had been instructed to switch its focus to merger and acquisition opportunities in oil assets, as well as serving as a fuel procurement base for Shanghai-based company CEFC China Energy, the same source said.

Zang Jianjun, the chairman of CEFC International, is an executive director of privately held CEFC China, although the two companies are independent legal entities, a CEFC China official told Reuters.

"There seems to be a lack of coordination internally between the top management," the source said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Two of the sources said the Singapore team, including three senior traders of crude oil and fuel oil, one derivatives trader, a trading assistant and a market analyst, were "looking for new options." They declined to elaborate.

Mr Liu declined to comment.

Dave Tan, CEFC International's investment relation manager, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

CEFC China Energy has been expanding its oil business in recent years, agreeing in 2015 to take control of the international arm of Kazakhstan's state oil and gas firm and launching a major oil storage base in China.

Over the past two years, the firm has brought on board nearly a dozen senior and retired executives from Chinese state energy giants.

Top hires include Cui Zhenchu, formerly head of crude oil trading with state refiner Sinopec Corp, Liu Zhongqiu, previously vice president of PetroChina trading vehicle Chinaoil, and Zhang Xin, an expert in oil and gas talks with Russia formerly with CNPC.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) last year urged investors and shareholders to be cautious in dealing with CEFC International's shares, noting stock buying had been concentrated in a small number of offshore accounts.

CEFC International reported a loss of US$758,000 in the first quarter of 2016 versus a US$1.207 million loss in the same period a year ago, according to a release on its website.

Shares in CEFC International have nearly halved in value so far this year after vaulting higher in 2015. The stock last traded at S$0.205 on July 7.