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The Baltic Exchange is the world's only independent source of maritime market information for the trading and settlement of physical and derivative contracts. Its international community of over 550 members encompasses the majority of world shipping interests and commits to a code of business conduct overseen by the Baltic.

Baltic Exchange members are responsible for a large proportion of all dry cargo and tanker fixtures as well as the sale and purchase of merchant vessels.

The company was founded in the mid-eighteenth century. The first use of the name was at the Virginia and Baltick Coffee House in Threadneedle Streetmarker in 1744, and was registered as a private limited company with shares in 1900. Today the exchange is owned by its member companies and is not publicly traded on a stock exchange. It is operated by a member-elected Board of Directors. It has 20 employees and is located at 38 St Mary Axemarker in central Londonmarker.

The exchange provides daily freight market prices and maritime shipping cost indices which are used to settle freight futures (known as Forward Freight Agreements or FFAs). Originally operating a trading floor, the exchange's members' transactions are today done solely over the telephone.

The exchange publishes six daily indices:

The exchange also provides forward curves, dry cargo fixture list, daily news and settlement data.

Current management

As of December, 2008, the current management includes:
  • Chief Executive: Jeremy Penn
  • Head of Finance and Company Secretary: Duncan Bain
  • Communications: Bill Lines


BIFFEX

BIFFEX, the Baltic International Freight Futures Exchangemarker - was a Londonmarker-based exchange for trading ocean freight futures contracts with settlement based on the Baltic Freight Index. It started trading dry cargo freight futures contracts in 1985, and was modestly successful for some years. All contracts were cleared by the ICCH (International Commodity Clearing House), later renamed LCH (London Clearing House). A tanker freight futures contract was introduced in 1986, but never became popular and was suspended indefinitely the same year. Volumes in the dry cargo contracts dwindled over the years, and the contracts ceased trading due to lack of liquidity in 2001.

The former Baltic Exchange building

The historic building was designed by Smith and Wimble and completed by George Trollope & Sons in 1903: it was subsequently listed as a Grade II* listed building.

Bombing of the exchange building

On 10 April 1992 the façade of the Exchange's offices at 30 St Mary Axemarker was partially demolished, and the rest of the building was extensively damaged in a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb attack. The bomb was contained in a large white truck and consisted of a fertilizer device wrapped with a detonation cord made from Semtex. It killed three people: Paul Butt, 29, Baltic Exchange employee, Thomas Casey, 49, and 15-year old Danielle Carter.

The bomb also caused damage to surrounding buildings, many of which were also badly damaged by the Bishopsgate bombingmarker the following year. The bomb caused £800 million worth of damage, £200 million more than the total damaged caused by the 10,000 explosions that had occurred during the Troubles in Northern Irelandmarker up to that point.

Architectural conservationists wanted to reconstruct what remained from the bombing, as it was the last remaining exchange floor in the City of London. English Heritage, the government's statutory conservation adviser, and the City of London Corporation insisted that any redevelopment must restore the building's old façade on to St Mary Axe. Baltic Exchange, unable to afford such an expensive undertaking alone, sold the site to Trafalgar House in 1995. The remaining sculptures and masonry of the structurally unstable facade block on the site were photographed and dismantled before the sale; the interior of the Exchange Hall, which was regarded as stable was initially sealed from the elements in the hope that it would be preserved in situ in any new development, but were subsequently dismantled and stored offsite in 1995-1996.

English Heritage later discovered the damage was far more severe than they had previously thought. Accordingly, they stopped insisting on a full restoration. What remained of Exchange Hall was completely razed in 1998 with the permission of the planning minister John Prescott, over the objections of architectural preservationists, including Save Britain's Heritage who sought a judicial review of his decision.

30 St Mary Axe is now home to the building commissioned by Swiss Re, commonly referred to as "the Gherkinmarker".

The stained glass of the Baltic Exchange war memorial, which had only suffered superficial damage in the bomb blast, has now been restored and is in the National Maritime Museummarker

Architectural salvage

Its classic red granite, coloured marble, Portland stone, and much of the original plaster interiors that survived the bomb were first stored in a Reading warehouse before being sold in 2003 to salvage dealer Derek Davies, who moved them to Cheshiremarker. Davies put the elements on SalvoWEB in February 2003, finally selling the 1,000 tonnes or more to salvage dealer Dennis Buggins in late 2005. Buggins then moved the elements from Cheshire to various barns around Canterburymarker in Kent.

Sale of building

In June 2006 an Estonian businessman, Eerik-Niiles Kross, found the ad for the Baltic Exchange on SalvoWEB whilst trawling the web for reclaimed flooring . He and his business partner Heiti Hääl bought the Baltic Exchange elements for £800,000 from Dennis Buggins of Extreme Architecture, and the 49 containers were shipped via Felixstowemarker to Tallinnmarker in June 2007 where the exchange will be rebuilt in Central Tallinn. Construction is stated to start in 2008.

Notes

  1. LAP Architects
  2. Trollope & Colls at the National Archives
  3. Extreme Restoration article BBC News website, 5 July 2007
  4. Pavilions of Splendour
  5. Historic London building to be reassembled in central Tallinn
  6. Extreme architectural auction sale
  7. SalvoWEB : Search results for "baltic exchange" in News - page 1


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