Deutsche Bank open to offers for London gold vault-sources

LONDON, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank is open to offers for its London-based gold vault following the closure of its physical precious metals business, three sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

“If the right offer came along, then the bank would sell the London vault,” one source close to the situation said.

The German bank shut its physical precious metals trading arm last month as it further reduced its exposure to commodity markets.

The bank shut its other physical commodities business, covering energy, base metals and dry bulk commodities in December 2013.

Deutsche also withdrew from the setting of daily gold and silver price benchmark prices, known as ‘fixes’, used by producers, consumers and investors to trade the metal and value their holdings.

One source familiar with the matter said Deutsche is still assessing whether to shift its vaulting business from its investment banking arm (CB&S) to its Global Transaction Banking (GTB) business, which includes custodial services.

Deutsche declined to comment on the status of its vaulting operation.

The bank’s London gold vault only became operational in June this year, more than two years after launching the project and when gold prices had tumbled more than 50 percent from their 2011 record highs of around $1,920 an ounce.

It has a capacity of 1,500 tonnes and was built and managed by British security services company G4S.

With other banks withdrawing from the commodities business to cut costs and reduce their regulatory burden, it could be difficult for Deutsche Bank to find buyers amongst its nearest peers.

But sources familiar with the matter said a Chinese entity could come forward. ICBC is trying to build a presence in London and the sources said it was a likely candidate. ICBC declined to comment.

The Chinese bank will finalise the acquisition of a 60 percent stake in Standard Bank’s London-based global markets unit at the end of January 2015.

“It would make perfect sense for them to enter the vaulting business and I’m sure they are interested,” one of the sources said. (Additional reporting by Fayen Wong in Beijing.; Editing by Veronica Brown and Greg Mahlich)