UPDATE 1-Chinese broker buys Natixis commodities unit
* Western banks under pressure over commodities
* China expands rapidly in commodities trading
PARIS, Aug 5 (Reuters) - One of China's top securities brokers has bought the commodities trading unit of French bank Natixis in the latest move by Chinese institutions to expand into natural resources markets.
Western banks that trade raw materials face increased regulatory and political pressure, with some market leaders such as JPMorgan considering selling, spinning off or clinching strategic partnerships for their commodities desks.
A Natixis spokesman said the unit was sold to China's GF Securities. The Financial Times earlier reported the Chinese brokerage paid slightly less than $40 million in cash. That figure could not immediately be confirmed.
Chinese companies have long been expanding into commodities trading amid booming demand for resources at home. Chinese oil firms have amassed powerful trading desks in Europe and the United States.
But while China's massive demand for resources, fuelled by its rapid industrialisation, has underpinned worldwide markets for everything from oil to iron ore, Chinese banks have been relatively slow to embrace commodities trading.
Last week, sources told Reuters that South Africa's Standard Bank is in talks to sell its London commodity trading business to its biggest shareholder, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
Last year, Bank of China Ltd became the first Chinese member of the London Metal Exchange.
Natixis has a midsized commodities trading desk employing several dozens of people with a focus on metals and energy.