Through Singapore's Cleartrade Exchange, German bourse seeks to tap Asia's commodities

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Singapore's Cleartrade Exchange expects the overall market size of its core products of iron ore, shipping, and fuel oil to grow strongly to US$200 million (S$279 million) by 2020, and it aims to take a growing slice of that trading, its chief executive told Reuters.

Cleartrade Exchange (CLTX) last year became fully owned by Germany's European Energy Exchange (EEX), which is continental Europe's leading electricity and natural gas bourse and is trying to go global though acquisitions like CLTX in 2016 and the US Nodal exchange this year.

EEX is itself a unit of Deutsche Boerse, Germany's biggest stock exchange.

Asia-Pacific markets for freight and seaborne commodities are likely to grow to US$200 million in total exchange revenue by 2020, from US$130 million in 2015, CLTX's chief executive Egbert Laege told Reuters.

"Our ambition is to achieve double-digit growth across these markets," he said.

CLTX is a rival to London-based Baltic Exchange, the world's main shipping bourse, which last year was taken over by Singapore Exchange (SGX).

By comparison with the size of the market and some of its competitors, CLTX is a small exchange.

Its 2016 sales revenues were €1.1 million (S$1.7 million), down from 1.2 million a year earlier. That compares with total EEX revenues of 234.2 million.

CLTX last year traded 315 million tonnes of iron ore, up 55 per cent from 2015, and 4.7 million tonnes of bunker fuel, up 37 per cent. Turnover in freights eased by three percent to 438,000 days of hire.

However, despite its size, CLTX is seen as giving EEX and Deutsche Boerse a foothold in Asia's growth markets.

"We are also very interested in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, so that could potentially be a further field of action," Laege added.

Due to overcapacity following sharp production rises especially in Australia and the United States, spot LNG trading in Asia, which consumes 70 per cent of global supplies, is soaring, opening business opportunities for exchanges.

Laege said that Cleartrade's LNG ambitions were supported by its location in Singapore, which is expected to become the main trading hub for LNG markets, allowing parent EEX power and gas customers in Europe to deal with global gas price exposure.

"From both dimensions, LNG makes sense (for us)," he said.