Barclays offers peek into massive new gold vault in London, cites investor demand
December 12, 2012 122 view(s)
December 12, 2012 -- Last week, Barclays offered a glimpse into its new, state-of-the-art gold vault in London. This marks the first time that more details about Europe’s largest privately owned commercial vault have been made available since the September opening of the storage facility for gold and other precious metals. Regarding the size of the facility, Barclays would only confirm that the vault is massive enough to hold billions of dollars worth of gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals. The Sunday Times of Great Britain recently provided an account of a rare and recent visit to the property. In discussion with the Times, Barclays cited several reasons behind the vault’s development, including U.S. gold investors who feared the current presidential administration may confiscate their gold, silver and other metals. Given the precedent of President Roosevelt’s administration in 1933, they feel it is better to store their gold in a secure location outside of the U.S. Further, London remains the world capital of international gold trading for Americans, Brits, Europeans, and people the world over. "The vast majority of [gold] transactions are cleared here,” said the Barclays commodities director Jon Spall in London. “If you need to buy or sell gold quickly, it makes sense to keep it here.” The London-based global financial services and investment firm built the gold vault in an undisclosed location outside of London’s city center. The secrecy surrounding the vault’s neighborhood and location is part of the security measures undertaken by Barclays. Despite being granted access to the vault, the Times correspondent was still short on details, limited his report to technological features rather than detailing its size and whereabouts. However, he did confirm that the building intentionally appears to be very nondescript. An electrified roof prevents an assault from above, while deep piles and plinths are designed to deter tunneling from beneath. Doors can withstand rocket-propelled grenades and fingerprint sensors detect the flow of blood within the finger. This means, no severed limbs or digits can be used to gain admittance. Demand for secure physical gold storage sites in London and elsewhere continues to increase. "Of the six clearing members, only two have their own vault,” said Spall referring to the London clearing exchange and the vaults owned by HSBC and JPMorgan. “We are the first bank to go out and build their own vault in over five years, which feeds back to it really being in response to client demand." Current reports state that Deutsche Bank has a London-area vault under construction and that Brinks is also looking to expand its vaults in the region as well. Overseas, new gold and precious metal storage vaults have opened in Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and New York City in response to investor demand.