It’s a well-known fact that oil made Marc Rich the world’s richest and most powerful commodities trader. Oil also made Rich – born Marcell David Reich – infamous around the world for his illegal deals with Iran during the hostage crisis almost 30 years ago. But what few people know is that metals – rather than oil – are responsible for kicking off and ultimately ending his career, Daniel Ammann, author of Rich biography “The King of Oil” reveals.
“Rich was really famous for oil but his influence on metals trading has been very important, especially for aluminium and bauxite,” Ammann tells FastMarkets in an interview. His Swiss company, Marc Rich + Co, made half of its income in oil but bauxite, aluminium oxide and aluminium together accounted for a quarter of its profit. The group also invested in numerous mines and smelters, bought a chunky share of Xstrata and, in the post-Rich area, became Glencore International AG, the world’s largest commodities trader.
“There is no doubt that Glencore is Marc Rich’s legacy,” Ammann says. “It was important to him that his company would survive after him, which is why he sold quite cheaply.” “The company still profits from the long-term contracts Rich had with Iran and South Africa for instance,” he claims. Glencore was built on Rich’s business culture of long-term relationships, secrecy and private ownership.
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