September 4, 2014 / 5:37 PM / 5 years ago

Century-old London gold price benchmark starts makeover

LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The operator of the London gold price benchmark said on Thursday it formally started the process to find a new administrator for the century-old mechanism that will halt the telephone call that four institutions enter twice a day in favour of an electronic solution.

The London Gold Market Fixing Ltd (LGMFL), along with the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), said in a statement that the choice will be announced in October, and implementation will be complete by the end of 2014.

The price-setting process, also known as the fix, has been used by producers, consumers and investors to trade gold and value their shares since 1919.

A similar process to find a new price benchmark administrator recently took place in the silver market. That yielded an electronic auction mechanism that replaced a daily conference call with three banks on Aug. 15.

As it happened for silver, the LBMA is again launching a consultation among market participants, including central banks, miners and refiners, to assess how they would like the new price mechanism to be derived.

The London platinum and palladium market also launched an RFPs process that is looking for a new administrator and appointed an independent chairman in August.

Regulators across Europe, the United States and Asia have scrutinised financial benchmarking processes following the Libor manipulation case in 2012.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), which won the contest to administer the silver benchmark, jointly with Thomson Reuters, was the first to confirm its interest in bidding to operate the gold process too.

But the search for the new gold administrator will not be restricted to the companies that bid to replace the silver benchmark, which included the London Metal Exchange (LME) and U.S. derivatives exchange Intercontinental Exchange among others.

Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC, Societe Generale, and Barclays, making up the LGMFL, operate the gold fixing. Deutsche Bank withdrew in May after two decades. (Reporting by Clara Denina; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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