VIENNA, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Austria has repatriated 15 tonnes of its gold reserves as part of a plan to hold half its stock of the precious metal within the country’s borders, the Austrian National Bank (OeNB) said on Friday.
The OeNB, which administers Austria’s 280 tonnes of gold reserves, said in May that by 2020 50 percent of the reserves would be kept in Austria, 30 percent in London and 20 percent in Switzerland. Most of its stock is now in Britain.
“By the end of November, the Austrian National Bank brought 15 tonnes of its gold back into its own vaults,” the OeNB said in a statement. A spokesman for the central bank said it had begun repatriating the gold from London in October.
After the repatriation, Austria held roughly 65 tonnes of gold, or about 23 percent of its reserves, on its territory, the spokesman said. Around three quarters, 209 tonnes, were in London, he said, and six tonnes were in Switzerland.
“London and Zurich remain the most significant trading centres for physical gold,” the OeNB said in its statement, a point it has made before in explaining why it kept such a large share of its reserves abroad.
In the decades after World War Two, security concerns also played a part because international trading centres were the best place to make use of the gold if needed in the case of an international crisis, the OeNB said in its statement.
“Geopolitical considerations in the time of the Cold War also played a role,” said the central bank in Vienna, which was only an hour’s drive away from the Iron Curtain that divided Europe for four decades. (Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Tom Heneghan)