Exclusive: Scotiabank to close its metals business - sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) BNS.TO told staff on Tuesday it would close its metals business, drawing the curtain on one of the most venerable names in precious metals trading, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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Scotia was for years the world’s biggest lender to the physical precious metals industry, with a history stretching to the founding in 1684 of London gold dealer Mocatta Bullion, which it bought in 1997.

Once a global player with more than 100 staff in offices from New York and London to India and Hong Kong, the bank sharply downsized the business in 2018 after a strategic review and an unsuccessful attempt to find a buyer.

But it remains one of the five banks that settle gold trades and one of 12 market makers that provide liquidity in the London market. It is also a participant in daily auctions that set a globally used gold benchmark price.

“Scotia had a global call with all its metals staff and said it was shutting down its metals business,” said one of the sources.

“The plan is to unwind the metals business,” said another.

A spokeswoman for Scotiabank declined to comment.

Sources said Scotia would not take on new business and would wind down existing activities by around the beginning of 2021. Some staff would be kept on over that period while others would be made redundant, they said.

Around 15 people worked in Scotia’s metals business, industry sources said, around three-quarters of them in precious metals and the remainder in industrial metals.

That compares to around 140 five years ago, the sources said.

Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Veronica Brown and Jan Harvey