When the Rothchild’s HKMEx was launched in 2011, much of the metals community assumed that the COMEX & LBMA, were they not to outright default, would fade into irrelevance with the advent of the new Asian metals exchange.
Two years to the day after the exchange’s launch however, in perhaps the most glaring evidence of physical gold & silver shortage to date, the HKMEx has announced it will voluntarily cease trading, and all open positions will be closed out and financially (cash) settled on Monday 5/20!
As Commodities Now reports, the HKMEx has voluntarily made the decision to cease trading and close out all open positions:
The Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange (HKMEx) announces today it has decided to voluntarily surrender the authorisation to provide automated trading services (“ATS”) granted by the Securities and Futures Commission (“the SFC”). With immediate effect, no new orders may be placed and all open positions will be financially settled at the settlement price determined by HKMEx and its designated clearinghouse.
The HKMEx’s Chairman claims that their priority is to protect members’ interests by closing their positions:
“The favourable conditions under which HKMEx was founded have not changed. Global commodity demand continues to shift towards Asia as the region undergoes sustained growth, presenting great opportunities that we will continue to exploit,” said Barry Cheung, Chairman of HKMEx. “Our priorities now are to protect members’ interests by ensuring effective closing of open positions while strengthening our shareholding base and developing new products that play to our distinctive strengths.”
In closing out the open positions, the Exchange has developed a plan in consultation with the SFC to ensure the process is orderly and that investors are well informed of the matter. The Exchange will disseminate settlement prices to its members the morning of next Monday, 20 May 2013.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Cheung claimed that defaulting on metals contracts has no impact on investors:
HKMEx chairman Barry Cheung Chun-yuen told the Sunday Morning Postthat the decision to surrender the trading licence and not reopen for business tomorrow would have no impact on investors and that client contracts would be honoured.
“There is no question of not getting your money back or anything like that. People absolutely do not have to worry about that and I don’t think they are.
“The only thing they will want to know is what settlement price will be used,” Cheung said.
HKMEx was working with LCH.Clearnet – the world’s largest clearing house for financial transaction settlements – to arrange settlement pricing on the exchange’s roughly 200 outstanding contracts, Cheung said.
The tiny number of outstanding contracts reflects the difficulty HKMEx has had in attracting trades to the platform that officially opened almost two years ago to the day on May 18, 2011.
We suspect that come Monday morning, more than one Chinese investor who believed he owned a gold position (and learns that in fact he held paper) will immediately attempt to source and take delivery of physical metal. As the Shanghai Gold Exchange appears to have stopped delivering gold as well, we suspect that the LBMA may be in for a bit of a physical run.
The first domino appears to have fallen in the ponzi fractional gold system.