ICBC Standard Bank to buy Barclays' precious metals vault

A worker walks between public hire bikes, sponsored by Barclays, in the city of London July 30, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - China's ICBC Standard Bank said on Monday that is has agreed to buy Barclays' BARC.L London precious metals vaulting business as it moves to expand its capabilities in precious metals clearing and storage services.

The agreement, which is due to close in July, will make ICBC Standard the only Chinese bank to operate a vault in London, a key trading and storage centre for precious metals.

The facility, used to store gold, silver, platinum and palladium, is one of the largest in Europe.

No financial terms were announced.

Barclays opened its state-of-the-art vault, sited at a secret location within London’s orbital M25 motorway, in 2012, after a 12-year bull run in gold prices pushed the metal to record highs the previous year.

A memo seen by Reuters earlier this year said Barclays was exploring the sale of what remained of its global precious metals business, which had been cut back significantly in recent years.

ICBC Standard Bank said last week that it has joined the London clearing system for gold, silver, platinum and palladium managed by London Precious Metals Clearing Limited (LPMCL).

Sources close to the companies said in January that ICBC Standard Bank was buying the lease on Deutsche Bank's DBKGn.DE London gold and silver vault, enlarging its footprint in the city's bullion market.

Reporting by Jan Harvey; editing by Adrian Croft