Repercussion from JP Morgan Out as RBS Sempra Commodities Bidder?

According to Onell Soto in our distinguished daily's business blurbs this morning, Fitch Ratings Ltd has issued a warning about Sempra Energy credit that may be tied to the fumbled Royal Bank of Scotland sale of its stake in RBS Sempra Commodities LLC to JP Morgan. Royal Bank of Scotland must divest itself of its stake as part of accepting European bailout money last year.

Only two days ago, Soto reported that Sempra Energy might be willing to buy up a portion of the RBS share of RBS Sempra Commodities. So far, there is no word if that report figured into the Fitch credit warning.

Royal Bank of Scotland has been the major financier of Dubai World debt, potentially a major default issue late last year. Around the same time in a CBS 60 Minutes report, Dubai was singled out as a major destination of conflict gold smuggled out of the Congo through dealers in Uganda.

The 60 Minutes report cited one of most significant problems in tracking smuggled gold: its journey through the hands of smugglers and intermediate sellers often masks the nuggets' point of origin. It is estimated that the smuggled Congo conflict gold trade route provides about $300 million of the metal to world markets annually.

RBS Sempra Metals, a major unit of RBS Sempra Commodities, is a founding member of the London Bullion Market Association, and that same unit lists gold as its main moving commodity for trading. Another unit involved in the RBS/Sempra Energy venture is Sempra Energy Trading. According to Sempra Energy, the RBS Sempra Commodities venture supplied Sempra Energy with almost the same amount of income as does SDG&E for a recently reported quarter's revenue, where the combined Sempra Energy revenue from both sources topped $200 million for that quarter.

Sempra Energy maintains a quarterly dividend payout of about 40% of retained earnings but does not contribute to preventing San Diego county wildfires by encouraging its utility SDG&E to put all power lines underground before 2063.


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