Re-examining the Metallgesellschaft affair and its implication for oil traders

The Metallgesellschaft AG (MG) affair of 1993-94 conveyed three central messages to the petroleum industry: one pertaining to the relationship between hedging and speculating, one pertaining to corporate governance, and one pertaining to commodity market dynamics. On the message of hedging vs. speculating, MG's US oil subsidiary, MG Refining & Marketing (MGRM), designed an innovative program aimed at rapid expansion in a mature but evolving business-the marketing of petroleum products. MGRM used a strategy combining over-the-counter (OTC) and futures instruments that contained a speculation on the relationship between near and distant prices. That speculation went against MGRM for a t...

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