Crop Traders in High Demand at Hedge Funds Looking to Cash In on Commodities

Hedge funds and proprietary trading firms are beefing up agricultural markets expertise by hiring traders as big swings in prices have made even relatively niche corners of commodities trading lucrative during the past year.

Prominent moves include Squarepoint Capital LLP’s January hire of Olivier Paturaud from Louis Dreyfus Co., where he headed sugar trading in Asia, and Millennium Management’s hiring of soft commodities specialist Jonathan Kroft from Citadel late last year, according to people familiar with the changes. Marshall Wace brought on Neil Smaldon, who has an agriculture background, as the firm’s head of discretionary commodities.