Trading house Gunvor’s founder Torbjorn Tornqvist has increased his stake in the firm after a bumper profit year as he bought out some leaving partners and expanded the board to bring in a new generation of managers.
The company said Tornqvist, Gunvor’s chairman, had raised his stake to 86.9% as of Dec 31, 2020, from 80.01% as of Dec 31, 2019.
“It is a standard annual fluctuation based on staff turnover,” a Gunvor spokesman said. The remaining shares are held by Gunvor employees.
Trading houses in 2020 benefited from energy market volatility. Rival Trafigura reported an almost two-fold jump in profits to $1.6 billion.
Gunvor has yet to report results for 2020.
In 2019, it reported net profit of $381 million, which means that even during a modest year, Tornqvist’s share of net profit exceeded $300 million.
While most trading houses, including Vitol, Glencore and Trafigura, have gone through a transition of power from founders to a next generation of leaders, Tornqvist has run Gunvor since its inception in 2000.
Gunvor did not say how many shareholders departed, but that, over the last year, the executive board has been expanded to 11 members from 7 previously. All board members are shareholders in Gunvor.
The spokesman said the board expansion reflected the growing role of U.S. trading operations and increased trading in liquefied natural gas.
“This composition better reflects the company’s key regions, desks and priorities,” the spokesman said. “This is part of ongoing work to strengthen corporate governance and broaden the decision-making base”.
New board members include U.S. managing director David Garza, the head of U.S. gasoline trading Dmitri Sinenko, legal and compliance head Jean-Baptiste Leclercq, the head of accounting, credit, risk and tax Benjamin Wasem and co-head of LNG Kalpesh Patel.
Gunvor has become the world’s biggest trader in LNG and has built from scratch a North American desk with 120 employees.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by David Evans and Barbara Lewis)