[LONDON] China's biggest bank ICBC has become the country's first lender to buy a precious metals vault in Britain, cementing its role as a major player in the gold market.
ICBC has bought the London vault, used to store also silver, platinum and palladium, from British bank Barclays, which is exiting the precious metals business as it looks to streamline operations after recent turbulence across the group.
Jon Spall, founder of consultants G Cubed Metals, told AFP on Tuesday that ICBC's purchase of a vault able to store 2,000 tonnes of gold showed Chinese "commitment to the international bullion market by becoming a market maker".
According to ICBC, the vault is one of the largest in Europe and is used to store precious metals "in support of the London Market".
Mark Buncombe, head of commodities at the Asian bank, said in a statement that the purchase for an undisclosed sum would help ICBC "to become one of the largest Chinese banks in the precious metals market".