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The LME Dinner

The LME Dinner

December 29, 2016

Chapter 51 in the exclusive series for Dynamic Commodities- becoming a commodities trader

The travel was to start in November, as a prelude Sid decided to test me out at an annual market event, the LME dinner in October. It was another opportunity to piss off my wife as I was to be in London for my birthday.

The LME is the London Metals Exchange, the global hub for copper, aluminum, nickel, lead and zinc trading. Sid had his eyes on trading those nonferrous metals to raise his profile within the company and to the overall market. About two weeks before the dinner, Mark Suter Sid’s trader in London picked up and quit without any notice. He took another job at a competing firm for more money to get away from Sid’s criticisms. It was the ultimate act of disloyalty for Sid. Peter Grinham, a corpulent fellow, was hired a few months before as Mark’s assistant. Peter had experience as a nonferrous options trader and market maker. Peter immediately took over for Mark.

During our week in London, Sid scheduled what seemed to be hundreds of meetings. We started with 7 AM breakfast and there was another meeting with a customer or another dealer each hour. Lunch was at noon and dinner at seven. The meals were for the most important and lucrative customers and counterparts. The dinners were drinking festivals. We stayed in the most exclusive hotel in London and ate in the most expensive restaurants. The LME dinner was the highlight of the week. It was an annual London tradition; following the cocktail party and dinner were the private parties where all hell broke loose. The traders in London used the dinner as an excuse to not only get drunk but to become completely shit-faced.

The stories that followed the LME dinner were classics; the more wasted the more respect the market bestowed. I had no idea that this LME dinner would result in a badge of my own.

Philipp Brothers had a suite in the Grovesnor Hotel, the site of the annual dust up. After the dinner, Mark Suter wandered over to the suite to say hello to his former colleagues and Sid greeted him. Still pissed off at his disloyalty he told Mark to leave immediately. When he refused, Sid punched him in the mouth. Peter Grinham and I pulled Sid off Suter and ushered him out. I went back and apologized to Mark who was shocked. In the next issue of the London market magazine that covered the event, an article said that there was a “fisticuffs” in the Philipp Brothers suite where a trader from New York (me) and a large fellow (Peter) broke up a fight. I begged Sid to apologize to Mark but he refused. He later told me he called him and after telling him he was out of line in a quasi-apology he berated him for quitting and his abject disloyalty.

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Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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