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Goldman says "never seriously" looked at selling commodities business

(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Tuesday the bank's senior management had never "seriously" looked at spinning off all or part of its commodities business, as the bank faces tougher regulations that restrict its trading.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Goldman had held "preliminary internal discussions" in recent years about splitting off its commodities business. The newspaper cited people briefed on the discussions in its report.

"While we constantly evaluate all our businesses, senior management never seriously looked at spinning out all or part of our commodity business," Goldman Sachs spokeswoman Sophie Bullock said in an email.

The news comes as Morgan Stanley , Goldman's traditional rival in commodity markets on Wall Street, is weighing a possible sale of a majority stake in its commodities business to Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.

Wall Street banks, including Goldman, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan , face tougher regulatory restrictions on proprietary trading under the Volcker rule contained in the Dodd-Frank Act.

Their ownership of physical commodity assets, like power plants, oil storage tanks and metals warehouses, are also in jeopardy after Goldman and Morgan Stanley converted to Bank Holding Companies at the peak of the financial crisis.

The Bank Holding Company Act allows banks to trade in physical commodity markets, but restricts their ownership of the underlying assets.

The Volcker rule limits banks to largely trading on behalf of their clients.

(Reporting by David Sheppard; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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