It is one of Europe’s largest and most-secure gold vaults — dubbed a mini Fort Knox — which lies at a secret location within London’s M25.
Equipped with an electrified roof, blast doors that can withstand rocket-propelled grenades and fingerprint sensors that can detect the flow of blood (to prevent the use of severed digits), the facility was opened by Barclays four years ago.
But this summer the keys to the vault, which can house up to $80bn of bullion, will pass to an overseas arm of a Chinese state-controlled bank, following a deal to acquire the site from the British bank. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
ICBC Standard Bank’s purchase of the facility is the latest move by Chinese banks to expand in London as they look to become a bigger force in price-setting for commodities, from gold to nickel.
Last week ICBC became a member electronic clearing system for precious metals in London, the first bank to join since 2005.
“This enables us to better execute on our strategy to become one of the largest Chinese banks in the precious metals market,” said Mark Buncombe, head of commodities at ICBC Standard Bank.
While almost all physical gold trading is cleared through London, China has emerged as the world’s largest consumer of the metal — overtaking India. This year the Shanghai Gold Exchange launched a new price benchmark process to compete with London’s “Gold Price”.
实物黄金交易几乎全是通过伦敦结算的，而中国已超越印度成为全球最大的黄金消费国。今年，上海黄金交易所(Shanghai Gold Exchange)推出了一个新的价格基准，与伦敦的“黄金价格”竞争。