VIENNA, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Austrian lender Volksbanken AG has decided in the face of media criticism to withdraw investment products that let customers speculate on agricultural commodity price movements, it said on Tuesday.
A recent surge in crop prices has revived a debate over the role played by financial speculators in commodity markets and whether they could be blamed for inflating food prices.
“Volksbank Investments will not offer any new products in this area and will withdraw all of its offerings in this sector,” the bank said.
In particular it was reacting to criticism of its Agrar Rohstoff Garant 2 certificate product which it had launched on Monday, a product that lets investors track gains on corn, sugar, soybeans and wheat prices.
“Trading such products is necessary to keep the market and thus the economy stable or to spur it on, but we understand the arguments of critics and will thus be much more sensitive in future about our product range,” executive board member Martin Fuchsbauer said in a statement.
Last week Germany’s Commerzbank said it had joined two of its peers, Deutsche Bank and DekaBank , in restricting food-related investments by stripping agricultural products from its ComStage ETF CB Commodity EW Index TR, a $145 million commodity index fund. (Editing by Greg Mahlich)