ANZ, New Zealand’s largest banking group, has announced the opening of a 50 metric ton gold vault in Singapore. ANZ, which is also the 4th largest bank in Australia, handles 15% of the world’s primary gold production, largely through its exclusive distribution agreement with Australia’s Perth Mint. The Perth Mint, which itself stores $3 billion in gold, has announced it plans to build an additional gold vault of its own. ANZ only sells to central banks, state-owned wealth funds, and other large banks.
ANZ becomes the fourth bank to open a gold vault in Singapore, following the announcement of UBS’s opening of a 60 tonne vault in July, and Deutsche Bank’s 200 tonne vault announced in June. US banking giant JP Morgan has had a gold vault in Singapore since 2010.
Singapore is looking to become Asia’s largest trading hub – a goal it must compete for against Hong Kong and Shanghai. It is located between the world’s second largest gold producer (Australia), and second largest gold consumer (China).
(It is interesting to note that China is the world’s #1 gold producer, and will be the world’s #1 gold consumer this year. None of China’s gold is exported, and the country has been very aggressive in buying gold mines in Australia as well as Africa and Latin America.)
China and the rest of Asia traditionally eschew paper exposure to gold, preferring the real thing. This has led to the flurry of gold vault construction in the region. Although jewelry demand in China has increased 46% this year, investment demand for gold is still larger.