IFC supporting food speculation?

3 July 2012

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector arm, has attracted criticism for its purchase of a 6 per cent stake in Armajaro Trading, a London-based commodity trading house founded by hedge fund trader, Anthony Ward. Ward, who owns a 71 per cent stake in Armajaro Trading, attracted international attention in 2010 when his purchase of 240,100 tonnes of cocoa beans pushed up cocoa prices to a 33 year high. UK newspaper Financial Times said the acquisition is part of a wider effort by the IFC “to step up investments in agricultural trading houses, as higher food inflation becomes a priority for political leaders.” However, Christine Haigh of the UK NGO World Development Movement said that the deal was likely to exacerbate problems. “Food price inflation is in part driven by speculation and manipulation of the markets. Armajaro has a history of dodgy dealings, including its disruptive cocoa trade in 2010, so the IFC’s purchase is effectively an investment in one of the causes of inflation.”