THE resignation of Cargill Investor Services' only director less than a year after its Hong Kong office opened has forced the company to take the unusual step of asking the securities watchdog to temporarily suspend its licence. In what is believed to be an unprecedented case, Cargill will meet the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) today to discuss if the company can avoid having its licence revoked. The United States company, which specialises in global futures markets, has applied for a six-month suspension of its licence during which it hopes to find a replacement for outgoing director Bill Grossman. A spokesman for the commission said yesterday that there was no provision in the Commodities Trading Ordinance that allowed for the suspension of a company's licence. That was in contrast with the securities ordinance, which did permit suspension, he said. 'What we can do is revoke the licence if there is not a dealing director,' he said, adding that no decision had been made. It is understood the SFC has some flexibility in the timing of its revocation. That could give Cargill an opportunity to replace Mr Grossman before the SFC takes action against it. Cargill's general manager for Asia, Bernie Dan, who is based in Singapore, denied rumours that the company was interested in shifting its focus away from Hong Kong and the infant China futures market. 'There is basically going to be no gap from a service point of view,' Mr Dan said in Hong Kong. 'We are going to continue to support this market and the China market, which we were supporting from here.' Cargill, which opened an office in Hong Kong in May last year, would continue to service its clients in the territory from other offices in the region, he said. That mainly would involve the company's work in futures portfolio management in Hong Kong. 'We are staying close to the China market and trying to work with companies as they develop,' Mr Dan said. Cargill Investor Services is a subsidiary of Cargill Inc, one of the largest privately held corporations in the US, employing about 70,000 people worldwide. It is an international merchant, warehouser, processor and transporter of industrial and agricultural commodities. The Hong Kong unit will still have one staff member, who is not a director. Mr Dan said he hoped to find someone local to take over as director.