Friday, October 17, 2008

Zurich Bank's Vault Is `Full to the Top' With Gold

By Rachel Graham

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Zuercher Kantonalbank, the Swiss lender that manages about $107 billion, said its gold vault is full after a surge in demand from investors seeking a haven during the credit crunch.

Assets in the Zurich-based bank's ZKB Gold ETF, backed by about 2.66 million ounces of the metal, have risen to a record for seven consecutive weeks. That amount of gold is worth about $2.25 billion at today's prices and equal to about 12 days of global production.

``Demand is so strong,'' Susanne Toren, a metals analyst at the bank, said by telephone from Zurich today. ``Our vaults are full right up to the top.''

Investors are buying gold coins and bars, and exchange- traded funds backed by physical metal, after banks including Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed. Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the largest ETF backed by bullion, advanced to a record 770.64 tons (24.78 million ounces) on Oct. 10.

Zuercher Kantonalbank, which is owned by the Canton of Zurich, also manages funds for silver, platinum and palladium. Sibylle Umiker, a spokeswoman for the bank in Zurich, confirmed the vault is full and said the company is looking for more space in Switzerland.

Rand Refinery Ltd., the world's largest gold refinery, in August said it ran out of South African Krugerrands. The Perth Mint, producer of 10 percent of the world's bullion, doubled output in the past six months. Muenze Oesterreich AG, the Austrian mint, increased production of its Philharmonic bullion coin almost fourfold.

The amount of gold held by nine ETFs and two closed-ended funds monitored by London-based researcher GFMS Ltd. reached a record 1,128.7 tons on Sept. 30, 25 percent more than at the end of last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Graham in London

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