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INTERVIEW: UK Royal Mint Seeks To Increase Bullion Business; Partners With ETF Securities

By Debbie Carlson Kitco News
Friday August 16, 2013 9:02 AM

(Kitco News) - The Royal Mint restarted its bullion program in 2011 and seeks to increase both knowledge about its coins and sales volumes, said a mint director.

“We’ve done well in the U.S. and the EU, and in the U.K. Part of the challenge in the U.K. is that people don’t know how to buy and sell gold and silver. We believe we can fill that gap,” said Shane Bissett, director of bullion, commemorative coin and medals, The Royal Mint.

Year-to-date sales are up 75% year-over-year, although he didn’t have any specific figures. Part of the rise comes from the growing distribution base and the drop in gold prices that spurred demand, he said.

The Royal Mint also just partnered with exchange-traded fund provider ETF Securities to offer holders an ability to redeem ETFs for physical gold, he said.

If holders want to redeem gold positions with ETF Securities, “they can come into our coins and if they want, they can store (the coins) in our vault. That just launched this week,” he said.

The mint opened its newest vault in December, one that was located where the refinery used to be. “There’s been very good interest in the space and we’re looking at ways to make the space more accessible,” he said.

The decision to move back into bullion after focusing on numismatic coins for a while came following the London Olympic Games in 2011.  

“Coming up to the Olympics, we invested very heavily some new machines. We saw it was an opportunity post-Olympics to obviously keep the machines busy and working. One of the reasons why people invest in gold and silver is that they are assets that retain their value. As the Royal Mint over 1,100 years old, we have a really strong brand that fits in the space. As we spoke to people, they see our brand very relevant in this area,” Bissett said.

The mint has three bullion coin series, gold and silver Britannia, and gold Sovereigns. “We have very strong ambitions in our bullion business. We are investing significantly in new technology and manufacturing to enable us to grow in the space,” he said.

The Sovereign is the most popular coin over time and has been produced by the Royal Mint as far back as 1817, Bissett said, and more than 1 billion have been produced since then. “It’ll be a bit of time before the Britannia overtakes that,” he jokes. “We have a bit of head start on that one.

“It’s the oldest bullion coin that’s still in manufacturing and it has tight specifications of five decimals (.99999) by an act of Parliament,” he said.

One way the Royal Mint is seeking to grow is to expand market access to its products. Last year it changed the specifications of its Britannia coins to fine gold and silver from 22 carat as it found that duties in some countries were less on fine gold. “We did it to avail ourselves of better opportunities,” he said.

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By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News; dcarlson@kitco.com,

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in precious metal products, commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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