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In June, Trafigura was still the largest company in Switzerland in terms of sales. Now the commodity trader has suddenly disappeared from the “Handelszeitung” ranking. What happened?

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The Trafigura company logo at the Geneva branch.

Reuters

However, it is unclear whether the company's headquarters are now in Geneva ...

However, it is unclear whether the company’s headquarters are now in Geneva …

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... or rather in Amsterdam.

… or rather in Amsterdam.

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  • Trafigura was still the largest Swiss company in July.

  • Now it has suddenly disappeared from the top ranking.

  • The reason could be that the company’s headquarters are no longer assigned to Geneva.

138 billion: That is the turnover that the commodities trading giant Trafigura achieved in the past financial year. Two thirds of the company’s sales are accounted for by trading in crude oil, the rest by metal trading, as Trafigura boss Jeremy Weir explained in a rare interview with “Bilanz” in 2017.

Despite this huge turnover, Trafigura is little known in public, partly because there is little demand for publicity in the not undisputed commodity trading branch. For around ten years, the company has been in the top ten in the Swiss company ranking, in which seven places are occupied by commodity traders. Also due to the corona pandemic, which the company apparently mastered better than the competition, Trafigura took the lead last June according to the “Handelszeitung” and is number one among Swiss companies in terms of sales – ahead of giants like Nestlé or Novartis.

Disappeared from the ranking

But now, as research by the Tamedia newspapers shows, Trafigura has disappeared from the list of the 100 largest Swiss companies after just a few weeks, as a look at the ranking by the credit agency Dun & Bradstreet shows. This now shows Glencore as number one – and there is no trace of Trafigura.

The question of why Trafigura suddenly no longer figures among the big ones was not answered by Dun & Bradstreet in the Tamedia newspapers. The “Handelszeitung” said that due to the complex corporate structure, Trafigura could no longer be assigned to Switzerland. The head office has probably been relocated to Amsterdam, it is said – a statement that Trafigura itself denies.

Where is the head office?

Indeed, it seems difficult to assign the Trafigura to a country. As the Tamedia newspapers write, the company has its headquarters in Singapore according to its annual report, but belongs to a Dutch holding company, which is controlled by a foundation in Panama. Trafigura has the largest trading offices in Geneva and Amsterdam.

Why this complex structure is only now manifesting itself in the loss of number one place in Switzerland is unclear. The question of whether a jealous competitor was behind the reclassification as a non-Swiss company remained unanswered. According to the information, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Seco neither has a definition of what constitutes a Swiss company, nor does it want to comment on the ranking of the “Handelszeitung”. Even Wikipedia is apparently uncertain: Amsterdam is given as the headquarters in the German edition and Geneva in the English edition.

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