A few months ago, when I wrote an article here about the likely closure of the LME Ring (obviously before its Lazarus-like revival….), I received the following email from a very good old friend:
“The most fun I ever enjoyed as adult was my 12 years as a ring trader.
It was like a gun fight. I was lucky in that I worked for Anglo Chemical which was already part of Philipp Brothers, so the rest of the ring were often frightened of us because of our size.
I would battle daily with the likes of Tony Whitting, Alan Booth, Ken Easdale: it truly was a daily fight. The fun was in driving the close up or down, I would sleep well if I won or badly if I lost.”
That good old friend was Robert Goldsobel, and sadly I learned that he died last week.
As that quotation makes clear, Robert was a ring-dealer, with J H Rayner as well as Anglo Chemical, but many will remember him in subsequent years as a tin expert, for a period at TransWorld Metals, and then with RMT - the initials representing Robert, Malik and Toong, the names of the three founding shareholders. After an unfortunate experience with Chinese suppliers, pre-payments and dropping prices, RMT morphed into RTS - Russian Tin Sales. I always regarded Robert as one of the most knowledgeable traders in the tin market, and he deservedly received enormous respect from producers, consumers and other traders in that business. Robert was a genuine trader, something that is not perhaps as common in the metals business - full of corporate executives, purchasing managers and producer salespeople - as some might believe.
But that’s the business side. One of my first conversations with Robert was not very propitious. TransWorld had just bought the LME company for whom I worked, and Robert told me in no uncertain terms as we stood together in a lift that the purchase had been a mistake, that it would never work and he gave it a few months before the LME side was chopped out. Well, in the end he was right.
Fast forward a couple of years, though, and in changed circumstances he became first a good LME customer and then a good friend. Lunches - never restricted to a mere hour and a half - were fun and entertaining, because Robert was a fine storyteller, and a man of imaginative thought. Golf was interesting, not only because he was a good golfer and I’m a dreadful one, but also because the stories and jokes just kept on coming. In simple terms, he was a delightful companion. In recent times, during the lockdown, when he phoned for a chat it was always a long one, always another story of mutual Russian acquaintances, of Malaysia, of the intricacies of tin concentrate trading.
Robert was Jewish - not necessarily strict, but proud of it, and proud also of his central European ancestry. My knowledge of Judaism is limited, thus I’m not sure of the right words here; so lets’s stay with Requiescat in Pace, Robert; you will be sadly missed.