Bloomsbury Minerals Economics Ltd (BME) was founded in June 1993 by Peter Hollands (Research Director) and Barbara Sotowicz (Sales Director). The Mining Journal Ltd and Brook Hunt & Associates Ltd were minority shareholders early on, but were bought out by the founders, who remain the controlling shareholders. Barbara’s brother Adam Sotowicz is also a shareholder. Over the years, Non-Executive Directors have included Neil Seldon (now Chairman of the Roskill Group), Robert Goldstein and Mike Barden, the latter two both former Managing Directors of CRU.
In 1993, BME launched the “Copper Briefing Service”, a 12-page monthly report in easy-access newsletter style but with rigorous forecasts two years ahead of mine, smelter & refinery production, refined consumption, market balance and stocks, prices, plus treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for custom concentrates (i.e. copper in ore minerals) and RCs for blister (unrefined) copper. That is a level of analysis monthly that competitors only provided in 100+ page quarterly reports.
In 2001, BME began mathematical forecasting modelling of cash prices and spreads for copper, nickel, aluminium, zinc, lead and tin. Price drivers were the rate of global industrial production (IP) growth, LME stocks, exchange rates and, for the spreads, interest rates. At that time, there were two schools of thought on base metal prices. Single-metal specialists followed market balances & stocks, multi-commodity analysts believed in turning points in the IP cycle. Adam’s models showed it was the interaction between IP growth rates and stock levels that drove both prices and spreads.
That insight brought great clarity to BME’s forecasting of LME cash prices and forward spreads. This was widely noticed and, at the request of a Hedge Fund, a subsidiary, BME Price Models (BME PM), was set up in 2004 to provide traders with fundamentals-based models of prices and spreads for the LME metals, as well as Expert Systems that incorporated ‘Quant’ techniques to complement traditional technical analysis. From 2005, BME PM also became the first company to incorporate into its fundamentals-based models the impact of the financial community’s new investment vehicles in physical metals, futures and options, which introduced long-side bias to the market: a price bubble.
Performance fees from the Hedge Funds models brought BME PM and BME itself profits that are believed by its Directors to have exceeded both CRU’s and Brook Hunt’s for several years, and BME quietly became a significant investor in other companies servicing the minerals and mining sector, but outside price forecasting (of which BME was starting to take a jaundiced view, given the bubble then developing).
In 2006, BME bought into MCL (owner of Mining Journal and the Mines & Money conferences) when the ‘Venture Capital’ shareholders were being bought out. In 2008, BME bought a 10% stake in FastMarkets, which ran the websites TheBullionDesk.com, BaseMetals.com and MinorMetals.com. In 2009, BME participated in a refinancing of Intierra, which acquired RMG to become IntierraRMG. All those companies subsequently went into trade sales.
In 2010, BME bought a stake in Roskill. In 2017, Roskill acquired Heinz H. Pariser Alloy Metals and Steel Market Research of Germany. The Roskill Group now comprises Roskill Holdings Ltd and three wholly owned subsidiaries: Roskill Information Services, Roskill Consulting Group and, in Germany, Roskill Pariser. BME owns 37%.
In 2012, tiring of trying to analyse a price bubble, BME sold title to its copper publications to Intierra (in which BME was a shareholder) and the intellectual property in its models to Adam Sotowicz. In mid-2015, with the price bubble ending, BME re-entered conventional copper market analysis and, via a new 25% shareholding in Adam’s Metal Price Analytics Ltd (MPA), also returned to modelling prices and spreads not just for the base metals, but also for gold, silver, platinum and palladium.