Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2012 (Revised March 2014)

Marc Rich and Global Commodity Trading

by Geoffrey Jones and Espen Storli

Abstract

Examines the career of Marc Rich, the world's leading commodity trader before his criminal indictment in the United States in 1983. The case surveys the historical growth of commodity trading, especially in metals, from the late nineteenth century, and its evolving forms as governments intervened in markets after 1945. Rich joined Philipp Brothers, then the largest commodity trader, in 1954. He formed his own firm two decades later. He was instrumental in the creation of a spot market in petroleum, and assumed a pivotal role in the industry during the 1970s by selling Iranian oil to Israel and South Africa. The case provides a means to explore the rationale and advantages of giant commodity traders, as well as enabling students to debate corporate use of tax havens.

Keywords: business history; commodity market; natural resources; Metals and Minerals; Business History; Entrepreneurship; Service Industry; Mining Industry; Africa; Europe; Middle East; North and Central America; Israel; South Africa; Iran;

Citation:

Jones, Geoffrey, and Espen Storli. "Marc Rich and Global Commodity Trading." Harvard Business School Case 813-020, June 2012. (Revised March 2014.)