Chinese banks boost precious metals hoard

Beijing-China (Sept 2)  The value of precious metals held by China’s biggest lenders surged 66 percent from a year ago as banks lease more gold to customers because tighter borrowing rules make it harder to lend funds.

Precious metals held by Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., China Construction Bank Corp., Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of China Ltd., the country’s four biggest lenders, were worth 378 billion yuan ($62 billion) at the end of the second quarter, according to financial reports. The growth since last year outpaced the gain in benchmark bullion prices, which rose 7.5 percent over the same period.

China is seeking to rein in credit by raising borrowing costs and cutting off lending to sectors considered at risk of default amid a property slump and rising number of bad loans. That’s prompting banks to hold more precious metals as they expand their gold-leasing business because it’s not subject to loan caps and is considered off-balance sheet lending, according to Industrial Bank Co.

“Gold-based financing has grown a lot in the past year,‘‘ Duan Shihua, a partner at Shanghai Leading Investment Management Co., said by phone from Shanghai Aug. 29. ‘‘It’s clear from banks’ statistics that lots of companies in China still can’t get enough financing.’’

Source: Mineweb