UBS shuts Houston energy trading desk

“We are resizing the UBS Energy business following a contraction of the energy trading markets since the beginning of the year,” a UBS spokesman said. UBS only entered the energy derivatives business in January when it bought out Enron’s North American wholesale electricity and natural gas trading business.

In August UBS Energy also scaled back its trading business, shedding 130 jobs in its Houston and Portland, Oregon, offices. Around 100 of those jobs were believed to have been technology related.

UBS had hoped its AA+ credit rating would prove attractive to counterparties increasingly concerned about credit risk in the energy trading market. But market participants said UBS was unable to shake off market perceptions that it was a re-branded Enron. Greg Whalley, the former Enron president and chief operating officer, now heads UBS Energy.

At the International Swaps and Derivatives Association annual general meeting held in Berlin in April, UBS said it was considering adding interest rate swaps along with metals and currency derivatives to the online energy trading platform it bought from Enron.

But Mark Haedicke, UBS Energy’s Houston-based general counsel, at the time declined to comment on the success of the business. “We’ve only been operational for 10 weeks so it’s too early to call. We should have a better idea of how successful the platform is within six months to a year,” Haedicke told delegates.

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