Saturday, July 17, 2010

British man buys huge amount of cocoa beans, holds them hostage to drive up global price of chocolate.

What an asshole. From Daily Mail:
A British financier who dramatically cornered a huge chunk of the world’s cocoa supply has been dubbed ‘Choc Finger’ by City traders.

Anthony Ward, 50, who has amassed a £36 million fortune, is a real-life Willy Wonka and now owns enough beans to manufacture 5.3 billion quarter-pound chocolate bars.

The holding is so massive it threatens to force manufacturers to raise the price of some of Britain’s most popular chocolate.

Armajaro Holdings, a hedge fund founded by multi-millionaire Mr Ward, pulled off the £658 million purchase of 241,000 tons of cocoa beans.

It is likely that the mountain of beans will be held in warehouses in London, Liverpool, Humberside and Holland.

The move was the largest single cocoa purchase for 14 years and came as bean prices rose to the highest level since 1977 – £2,732 per ton.

The purchase has surprised commodity dealers because, in a highly unusual move, Mr Ward’s firm has actually taken delivery of the beans. According to industry sources, in 98 per cent of transactions, traders exchange contracts which give them the option to buy and sell cocoa at various prices and at different times without ever taking possession of the stock.

The move has prompted speculation that Mr Ward is stock-piling huge volumes of cocoa in order to exert a stranglehold over supply and force the price even higher.

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