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Exxon’s Belgium Traders Decline UK Transfer, Risking Jobs

(Bloomberg) -- More than two dozen of Exxon Mobil Corp.’s trading staff declined the oil giant’s offer to transfer to London from Belgium, putting their jobs at risk, according to a union official.

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A majority of the traders — 25 out of 36 — declined to relocate, according to Fransy Van de Gucht of the ACLVB union. “Those 25 will be gradually dismissed once they have handed over their job to — mostly newly hired — counterparts in London,” he said.

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Earlier this year, Exxon asked traders in Belgium to relocate to the UK after it created a new global trading division. The move is part of a major expansion in trading for the oil company, which historically hasn’t taken on as much risk as European rivals Shell Plc and BP Plc.

Europe is a “challenging business environment” and the UK move will help the company “remain competitive for the long term,” Exxon said in a statement. “London provides better proximity to trading activities, trading talent pool, and will support our evolution as a trading organization.”

A majority of Exxon’s Brussels-based trading staff previously said they wouldn’t move to London because of “uncompetitive” pay and a “lack of flexibility.” Union officials held a protest against the move outside the oil giant’s Brussels office in April, and they said at the time that some Exxon traders were among those present. Exxon spokeswoman Elise Otten said Friday that no employees participated in the protest.

The company previously introduced a new compensation policy that would pay some traders cash bonuses.

(Updates with Exxon comment on April protest in fifth paragraph.)

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