The Lugano Commodity Trading Association (LCTA) is a non-profit organization that brings together companies active in commodity trading, shipping, insurance and commodity trade finance. This year the LCTA celebrates its 10th anniversary and after a decade, President Thomas Patrick has decided to resign. The Executive Board of LCTA, according to the by-laws, has elected the new President: Matteo Somaini, General Manager Finance, DITH.

The LCTA would like to take the occasion to thank the outgoing President and would like to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by him to the association. Thomas Patrick has always shown great commitment and personal investment and has been fundamental to the progress that our organisation has achieved over ten years. The change of President was communicated to LCTA members at the Ordinary General Meeting which unfortunately this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, could not be held physically, but took place by correspondence. Through an interview we would like to introduce you the new LCTA President.

Mr. Somaini, you have been involved in LCTA since the beginning, 10 years ago, what can you say about the evolution of the association over the years?

When we met the first time more than ten years ago – the Chamber of Commerce, a trading company, and a bank – we were six people aware of a rapidly changing business environment, with the objective to create value in the areas of: education, networking and communication to the public. After ten years, LCTA counts 53 members and we are part of STSA – the national association with whom we coordinate most of the public initiatives concerning the industry. Our association organises continuing education for people active in the sector and several years ago we started the “Certificate of Advanced Study – Commodity Professional”, in cooperation with Zug Commodity Association and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

We organise an annual conference attracting in Lugano people from all over Europe and we participate to selected events abroad, aiming to create opportunities for our members and promoting Lugano as major Trading Hub.

We see the result of the hard work of our secretary, president and board, with the contribution of all our members. Ten years ago, it was not taken for granted, especially given the little attitude of the industry to public initiatives, in the past.

What do you think is the biggest strength of LCTA?

I would say it is the sense of community. In Ticino we are about 70 companies, employing more than 2’000 people. It has become manifest to the members, with the time, that we are not just people working in the same industry, often dealing with different commodities, sometimes even competing on the market. We are a community, we share the same territorial area (Lugano is our base, the worldwide market is our business environment), we share interests and values. I believe that the awareness of this sense of community is at the same time the greatest strength of the association, as well as one of the most significant achievements of LCTA in the first decade of activity.

What is particularly important for you as President of LCTA?

My top listed consideration is that all members feel represented in the values of the association, aiming to preserve and grow the community that we have “discovered”. In parallel LCTA should focus to support members ad new companies in the industry by sharing know-how and creating value through our network.

What are you looking forward to doing as President of the association?

When we started to discuss the idea of funding the association, in 2010, we just overcame one of the most severe economic recessions of the history, we perceived that the world would have been different and we should quickly adapt our modus operandi, to satisfy new requirements, especially from the financial industry. It was one of the reasons that brought us together. Today we are facing something similar, to some extent more extreme, probably faster, certainly deeply affecting our lives as much as our business models.

Switzerland is the strongest country in the world for commodity trade finance, the first country for trading of energy, metals and soft commodities, and Ticino is one of the three commodity hubs in Switzerland. Swiss-based shipping companies handle over 20% of traded goods via sea all over the world. We have best in class companies providing services, managing logistic and risks, at every level of the supply chain of every category of commodities. I look forward to team-up with our board, all our members, and our peers in Switzerland – and why not in other important hubs around the world, like London, Singapore and Dubai – to take-up the new challenges. It is a unique innovation opportunity, not just technology based. We can lead the transformation through responsible innovation and move the industry to an approach based on co-opetition, aiming for long term and sustainable results, to create value for all stakeholders.

1. What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets?

Founded in Lugano in 1952, the Cornèr Bank Group is an independent Swiss private bank group operating on the national market as a full-service bank. Lugano is Switzerland’s third-largest banking centre, after Zurich and Geneva. Active across the whole range of traditional banking services, the Cornèr Bank Group specialises in the Private Banking sector, as well as in the areas of lending, Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club payment cards (Cornèrcard) and online trading (CornèrTrader) – the core businesses on which the growth of the Cornèr Bank Group is based.

2011 brought a new acquisition to the Group: Zurich-based BonusCard.ch AG, a company engaged in the payment cards sector. 2012, on the contrary, was the year of the creation of CornèrTrader. This division offers private and institutional investors innovative multi-asset platforms for trading online. Through these platforms, investors can access the world’s financial markets and take advantage of personalised service and assistance from Account Executives specialised in this field.

Among the main innovations of 2015 was the direct issue of structured products on the Swiss market. This enabled the Cornèr Bank Group to join the Swiss Structured Products Association (SSPA), making it the Association’s first member bank from Ticino. Also in 2015, the acquisition of Diners Club Italia, in Milan, and the Slovenian Dinit d.o.o., the service company for the Diners Club  brand at the European level, extended the Group’s scope of action in the payment cards sector.

The decision to keep the Head Office and Executive Board in Lugano reflects the Bank’s strong link with the local economy. Over the years, Cornèr Bank has opened offices in other leading Swiss financial centres and launched a vital process of internationalisation. The specific aim is to diversify and extend the Bank’s own range of products and services to keep pace with the increasing market globalisation and a more cosmopolitan clientele.

As regard to equity, the Cornèr Bank Group currently boasts an impressive capital ratio, with around three times the minimum statutory requirement. In terms of capital soundness, Cornèr Bank has been on the podium in Switzerland according to the world financial statistics compiled in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 by “The Banker”. On June 2019, the bank has received a BBB+ from Fitch Ratings agency.

Cornèr Bank Group consists of the Lugano-based parent bank Cornèr Bank Ltd., the four Swiss branches in Chiasso, Geneva, Locarno and Zurich, the affiliated Cornèr Bank (Overseas) Limited,  BonusCard.ch Ltd., Cornercard UK Ltd., Diners Club Italia S.r.l. and Dinit d.o.o.​Since 2015,

2. In your view, what is the actual trend of your sector?

Today with all difficulties, Trump’s policy, european duties and finally the Coronavirus, the market is under pressure.

Already last year the trend was not positive and at the moment we can say that the market has a bearish trend.

Maybe the second part of the year should be better, but making prediction is always a hard exercise.

3. How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?

Again the world is becoming more tricky and it is not evident to anticipate the future, especially during the last months, as explain before.

Nevertheless I think a market which is always in movement, can offer good opportunities.

What is important to say that Cornèr Bank is not comparable as big banks or banks who used to work in Trade Finance activities. For us this is a niche sector.

4. For your company, what are the benefits of working in Lugano (Switzerland)?

Lugano is part of Switzerland, a country who has a political stability, in the centre of Europe, with his “swiss label” well known all over the world.

Switzerland is also the country of many companies who are active in trade finance and raw materials activities.

Lugano is one of the big place in Switzerland for the trading of raw materials with Geneva and Zug.

So I think being near of companies is extremely important.

5. Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity

LCTA helps companies who want open a new reality in Ticino, gives the opportunities having a direct contact with the authority of the Canton.

LCTA offers to companies through his networking to know expert in many sectors like shipping, financing, and offers also high level trainings in different sectors.

Philippe Thürler, Trade Finance Specialist
Cornèr Banca SA // Cornèrcard // CornèrTrader

Foto © Fabrice Villard

Antonio Gerli
Commercial Director

What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets?

Our company, together with subsidiaries in the Czech Republic and Turkey, trades raw materials for the metallurgical and steel industry. In particular, we deal with non-ferrous metals (aluminium, copper, nickel, tin, zinc, lead and minor metals) and noble ferroalloys (based on molybdenum, vanadium, titanium, niobium, tungsten and others). We mainly operate as principals, buying, storing and reselling to consumers; we also have territorial representation as agents and distributors on behalf of some foreign producers.

In your view, what is the actual trend of your sector?

Our sector is perhaps the most globalised one, and therefore subject to the great influence of international geopolitical events. Phenomena such as the imposition of duties and tariffs, or events such as pandemics have an immediate (and often negative) impact on international trade and the economic growth prospects of nations. Over a longer period, however, there is no doubt that the increased urbanization of the world population and technological development are phenomena that support the use and trade of metals.

How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?

Partially negative in the immediate term, precisely because of the limiting factors mentioned earlier; certainly improving in the long term. Precisely for this reason, for us traders, it is necessary to equip ourselves with more and more financial facilities able to sustain for prolonged periods of time a stagnant or even shrinking market, so as to be ready to seize the reversals of the trend and take advantage of the peaks of rise. All this requires long dedication to customer needs and loyalty based on quality of service and trust in confidentiality and responsiveness.

For your company, what are the benefits of working in Lugano (Switzerland)?

Lugano is in a magnificent position from a geographical point of view: north enough to be in the heart of Europe, and also south enough to guarantee an incomparable meteorological quality. At the same time it is at 2-3 hours maximum by plane from the extreme west (Lisbon) and the extreme east (Moscow, Istanbul) of Europe. This puts it in direct contact with the whole EU and neighbouring countries. In addition, Lugano has the advantage of being in Switzerland, the nation in Europe most “friendly” to trading sector.

Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity

The activity of LCTA allows members to have an excellent relationship with their peers in the Ticino economic environment and, by extension, in the Swiss one, as well as allowing a coordinated action to defend the interests of the category. Equally important is the educational and updating activity, addressed both to seniors with conferences and updates, and to juniors with preparatory courses for business activities.

Marco Arrighini, 
Head of Southern Region

What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets?

Euler Hermes is the global leader in trade credit insurance (TCI) and trade-related insurance solutions such as sureties & guarantees, coverage against fraud & cybercrime and international debt collection. We help companies take control of tomorrow thanks to our unique knowledge of companies, industries and countries. In a nutshell we help our clients to choose the right customers and the right markets to avoid bad debt in the first place. Because the future is not always as expected, we predict trade and credit risk today, to protect cash flow tomorrow.

In your view, what is the actual trend of your sector?

The trend is positive and TCI is getting more and more important and frequent especially for traders and industries active with customers based abroad. TCI is an essential tool for companies of all sizes. Access to trade financing is very often subject to the presentation to the banks of a trade credit insurance.

How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?

There is a very interesting future ahead. Insurtech and Fintech will change completely the way how trade financing and trade credit insurance work. It will be fascinating.

For your company, what are the benefits of working in Switzerland?

We are based in more than 50 countries all over the World and Switzerland plays an important role across the DACH Region (Germany, Switzerland and Austria). In Switzerland we have office in Zurich, Lugano and Lausanne in order to be closer to all the customers based in the 3 main Swiss-Regions where important international industries are based.

Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity.

LCTA is not only a networking hub but it is also a centre of  competence.

Lucia Longhi
General Manager

What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets?

The core activity of DSS INTERNATIONAL is contained in the name of the company. The abbreviation DSS stands for DneproSpetsStal, which is the Ukrainian producer of special steel for which we work as exclusive distributors for a major part of the world. The special steel we distribute is in bars (mainly round) and can be grouped in the following big families: Tools steel, Stainless steel, Engineering steel and PM steel (Powder Metallurgy steel). We export the 25% to Germany, 10% to Italy, 20% to other EU countries, 15% to North America and the balance to rest of the world.

In your view, what is the actual trend of your sector?

A big share of our steel goes to the automobile industry, so our sector partially fluctuates together with the world use of cars and the purchase of new models. Another factor influencing our position is the price of nickel, which is the predominant cost element in the production of stainless steel. Overall, we presently see a stable trend in our sector after a major reduction last year. Even if we are moderately touched by the “Trump tariffs” on some grades of special steel, our volumes to North America have not decreased much, because almost all our customers have accepted to absorb the increase of price.

How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?

We do not expect major changes this year, but overall the results should improve thanks to new investments in production as well as the strengthening of the sales/marketing teams.

For your company, what are the benefits of working in Lugano (Switzerland)?

Good infrastructures, reasonable level of bureaucracy, banks providing trade finance services, pleasant location to work in and where to invite our frequent international visitors.

Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity

We are very pleased to be part of this association, which defends our industries’ interest. It is also a platform to meet with people working in similar or related sectors. Important is also LCTA’s contribution in the professional education.

Piermichele Bernardo
Managing Partner

What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets?

We are a swiss insurance broker with full access to global expertise and capacity regarding trade risks, marine, energy and supply chain insurance; generally we can provide worldwide solutions.

Please take a look at the video of our 30 years, with 4 testimonials, or visit www.ibc-broker.com

In your view, what is the actual trend of your sector?

The trend is in general very good and we obtained very interesting quotations and some important cover extensions; the result has been influenced from: cover required, market approached, risk management, claims experience and, as well the period of the year.

How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?

Positive! The capacity of the market is good and the good relationship with the most important and flexible insurer and Underwriter help us to provide innovative and competitive solutions for our clients

For your company, what are the benefits of working in Lugano (Switzerland)?

Lugano is still recognised as a competitive financial place and for us is a window to the European market; we are happy to work close to our clients and we believe that is still an added value in these business model transformation years.

Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity

If LCTA wasn’t there, it would have to be invented! Great work!

Alberto Fogagnolo
CFO
Deltasteel

1. Di che cosa si occupa la vostra azienda? Quali sono i vostri mercati principali?

Dal 1994 il gruppo DELTASTEEL opera su scala geografica globale nel trading di materiali ferrosi. Nei suoi 25 anni di attività, in proprio o rappresentando primari gruppi internazionali, ha intermediato materie prime, semiprodotti e prodotti finali dell’industria siderurgica, focalizzandosi nell’ultimo periodo sul reinserimento nel ciclo produttivo dell’acciaio di ghise cosiddette secondarie, agendo principalmente nel mercato dell’Europa dell’Ovest.

2. Dal vostro punto di vista, come valutate l’andamento del vostro settore?

Capacità industriale, produzione e consumo di acciaio sono costantemente in crescita ma globalizzazione, accesso al credito sempre più selettivo, totale trasparenza del mercato, misure protezionistiche e concentrazione del numero dei produttori e dei consumatori diventano fattori chiave che rendono sempre più complicato per i trader ritagliarsi un ruolo attivo nella catena produttiva e commerciale della siderurgia.

3. Come stimate le prospettive dei mercati relativi al vostro settore?

Le dinamiche settoriali descritte obbligano i trader ad assumere un ruolo prettamente finanziario o a rischiose prese di posizione commerciali. Esistono sempre di più “one man company” con limitato accesso al mercato ed i grandi gruppi internazionali, anche integrati a monte o a valle.

DELTASTEEL ha risposto alle nuove sfide rinunciando all’espansione a tutti i costi per privilegiare   rapporti di lunga durata con selezionati clienti e fornitori a cui garantire servizi che vengono riconosciuti e apprezzati come altamente professionali. Costante controllo della gestione e la dotazione di mezzi propri hanno consentito, pur mantenendo uno stretto rapporto con le istituzioni finanziarie, una discreta autonomia operativa adatta alle dimensioni.

4. Quali sono i benefici di lavorare a Lugano (Svizzera)?

La Svizzera è nota per l’ottima possibilità di fare impresa. DELTASTEEL è stata fondata a Lugano che ha sempre avuto un ruolo storico internazionalmente riconosciuto nel trading e nelle attività ad essa collegate. Nonostante questa centralità si sia ridimensionata, noi riteniamo che Città, Cantone e Confederazione  possano offrire ancora molto al nostro settore magari attraverso un piano creditizio specifico per le piccole/medie imprese e la finalizzazione della riforma fiscale.

5. La vostra opinione in una frase per descrivere l’attività della LCTA

LCTA deve essere amplificatore delle singole voci dei propri associati, delle loro realtà, delle loro istanze ed esigenze fungendo da “cinghia di trasmissione” con gli enti preposti al loro accoglimento.

Sempre gradite sono le occasioni di networking locale ed internazionale così come di aggiornamenti su problematiche e opportunità che riguardano le attività di trading.

Alessia Ponti
Key account manager credit insurance
AXA

What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets?

We are marine insurance independent brokers specialized in international trading operations. Our focus is the World! The slogan «Serving International commodity trade» expresses the vision of FILHET-ALLARD MARITIME.
We provide our clients with an invaluable service to the international trade and shipping industry since 1895. The main goal of our highly trained, dedicated and experienced teams is to hedge our client’s risks inherent to their operations with first class underwriters. The risks we handle, include Marine Cargo, Storage, Charterer’s liability / FDD, Cargo owners legal liability, Political and war risks, Trade disruption, Credit risks, Contract frustration, Hull and Machinery, Ship owner’s liability, P&I, Claims recoveries, defence and so forth.

We differentiate through:
– A proper and performing dynamic client’s team always at your service,
– Extensive operational authorities of first class insurance markets,
– Our efficient organization in claims, underwriting and recoveries

Our head office is located in Bordeaux / France and we are present in Geneva as specialized branch. We also have a subsidiary in Ivory Coast and 3 rep offices in Mauritania Angola and Turkey We also have an important footprint in FSU countries as well as in Singapore and Dubai.

In your view, what is the actual trend of your sector?

Insurance of international trading operations (Marine Cargo, Charterer’s liability, Hull, Machinery and P&I, Credit risks…) was always a very challenging and extremely competitive activity. Today we are observing two trends: a concentration of the insurance industry (mergers and acquisitions) and important fluctuations of the commodities prices.

How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?

Despite the challenges we mentioned before, we are confident in our strategy, consisting in increasing our presence near to our clients worldwide, diversifying our portfolio and offering a large panel of tailor made Insurance products.

For your company, what are the benefits of working in Switzerland?

We are working in Switzerland as specialized branch for more than 16 years. The biggest benefit is to be closer to
– the global trading operations of companies present in Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Zug and, of course, Lugano
– the different Banks and Funds financing the trading operations
– the various inspection companies

Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity

LCTA is key to access the universe of international trading activity in Lugano.

Henry Allard
CEO
Filhet-Allard Maritime

What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets?

We are marine insurance independent brokers specialized in international trading operations. Our focus is the World! The slogan «Serving International commodity trade» expresses the vision of FILHET-ALLARD MARITIME.
We provide our clients with an invaluable service to the international trade and shipping industry since 1895. The main goal of our highly trained, dedicated and experienced teams is to hedge our client’s risks inherent to their operations with first class underwriters. The risks we handle, include Marine Cargo, Storage, Charterer’s liability / FDD, Cargo owners legal liability, Political and war risks, Trade disruption, Credit risks, Contract frustration, Hull and Machinery, Ship owner’s liability, P&I, Claims recoveries, defence and so forth.

We differentiate through:
– A proper and performing dynamic client’s team always at your service,
– Extensive operational authorities of first class insurance markets,
– Our efficient organization in claims, underwriting and recoveries

Our head office is located in Bordeaux / France and we are present in Geneva as specialized branch. We also have a subsidiary in Ivory Coast and 3 rep offices in Mauritania Angola and Turkey We also have an important footprint in FSU countries as well as in Singapore and Dubai.

In your view, what is the actual trend of your sector?

Insurance of international trading operations (Marine Cargo, Charterer’s liability, Hull, Machinery and P&I, Credit risks…) was always a very challenging and extremely competitive activity. Today we are observing two trends: a concentration of the insurance industry (mergers and acquisitions) and important fluctuations of the commodities prices.

How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?

Despite the challenges we mentioned before, we are confident in our strategy, consisting in increasing our presence near to our clients worldwide, diversifying our portfolio and offering a large panel of tailor made Insurance products.

For your company, what are the benefits of working in Switzerland?

We are working in Switzerland as specialized branch for more than 16 years. The biggest benefit is to be closer to
– the global trading operations of companies present in Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Zug and, of course, Lugano
– the different Banks and Funds financing the trading operations
– the various inspection companies

Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity

LCTA is key to access the universe of international trading activity in Lugano.

Titan Bulkers

What is the core activity of your company? Does your company focus on particular geographic markets? 

Titan Bulkers is a ship brokerage company headquartered in Lugano and active in the dry bulk business. The company is active in the worldwide market fixing vessels mainly from handy upto ultramax sizes with a particular focus on iron ore, coal, pig iron and scrap products. In order to assist the different traders’ needs, Titan Bulkers can also provide freight coverage for smaller and bigger sizes offering a tailormade approach to all customers.

How do you judge the perspectives of your activity’s market?   

The shipping market is linked to several key factors as the commodity trading flow, global financing, ships’ order-book, politic choices and environmental episodes.. therefore it is not easy to answer. In the recent past years the dry bulk market has been extremely low with several and considerable up and down peaks due to financial crisis, a huge amount of new ships with a resulting available tonnage in excess of the commodity traded and a very limited amount of scrapped vessels. Luckily this negative trend is changed and the market is slightly recovering even though good levels are still far away from the owners’ expectations. I believe that in the near future the market will have a limited positive trend.

For your company, what are the benefits of working in Lugano (Switzerland)?            

The fair taxation is of course one of the main points but most important is the possibility to establish good connections with all the trading and shipping operators located here in Lugano and the cities nearby. Two important hubs like Zurich and Milan give you the possibility to be easily connected with any place in the world.

Your opinion in one sentence to describe LCTA’s activity                      

LCTA is great for networking and helping people to strength the already established relationships or create new ones. LCTA also assist companies with all the formalities for new employees and organize training events/courses to have qualified people in different fields.