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JPMorgan oil chief moves to Noble, new co-heads named: SparkSpread

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co named Jeff Katz and Mitch Rubinstein to run its global oil operation after the division's previous chief Jeff Frase left the bank after five years for Noble Group , industry website SparkSpread.com reported on Tuesday.

Frase's departure from one of Wall Street's biggest commodity players was announced to JPMorgan staff this morning, SparkSpread said, citing an unnamed source. The website later said that Katz and Rubinstein were named co-heads of global oil.

JPMorgan and Noble officials were not immediately available to comment.

Frase, one of just over half a dozen senior traders who report to JPMorgan commodities chief Blythe Masters, is one of the most senior departures since the bank expanded dramatically with the purchase of the former Sempra Commodities energy and metals divisions.

He worked for Goldman Sachs Group Inc for 17 years, rising to run one of the largest and most prestigious oil and derivatives trading operations in the world. He then took a one-year turn at Lehman Brothers before the bank collapsed.

A growing number of traders have moved recently from jobs on Wall Street, once considered the pinnacle of a commodities career, to privately held trading houses or hedge funds, lured by incentive plans and trading books unconstrained by new financial market regulations affecting banks.

"Jeff has built his name in banking, which is a relatively constrained market. Moving into a trading house will relieve him of those constraints and allow him to build a business as he sees fit," said Peter Henry, senior consultant at Commodity Search Partners in New York.

Noble Americas, the Stamford, Connecticut-based U.S. arm of Singapore-listed Noble Group, has grown rapidly over the last six years, expanding tenfold to more than 14,000 employees.

It has also seen some turnover at the top of its oil business. Former Morgan Stanley trader Olav Refvik, dubbed the "King of New York Harbor" for his skill in playing the U.S. fuel market, stepped down from his position running Noble's oil book last October.

Katz has been at JP Morgan for eight years in various divisions including oil, foreign exchange options and derivatives, SparkSpread reported, citing an internal memo.

Rubinstein joined the bank last year after a variety of roles, including three years as global head of oil at Bank of America and most recently a one-year stint at China oil giant Sinopec Group's Unipec arm. He spent the first 18 years of his career at Chevron and Texaco, according to the memo.

(Reporting By Jonathan Leff and Jeanine Prezioso; Editing by John Wallace and Alden Bentley)

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