Profiles in Bullion: ScotiaMocatta

scotiabank

By Ron Drzewucki - Modern Coin Wholesale .....
 

Last time I profiled a bullion manufacturer, I talked about the Switzerland-based company PAMP Suisse. The surprising thing about it was that PAMP Suisse began operations only in 1977. One almost expects such a company to date back to the Renaissance, I guess.

This week, however, we’re almost there.

All we have to do is cross the border... the northern border.

That’s right! Canada, of all places, is home to one of the oldest precious metals companies in the Western world - welcome to the Byzantine world of corporate acquisitions.

But more importantly, welcome to ScotiaMocatta.

Scotiabank/ScotiaMocatta

ScotiaMocatta (or Scotia-Mocatta, or Scotia Mocatta; I’ve seen all three) is part of Scotiabank, otherwise known as the Bank of Nova Scotia.

As the name says, Scotiabank started out in Nova Scotia but on its way to becoming an international powerhouse and the third largest bank in Canada it transferred its headquarters to Toronto, Ontario. Founded in 1832, ScotiaMocatta’s current parent bank is now one of the top 50 banking institutions on the planet.

And while 1832’s not bad, we can do better.

ScotiaMocatta happens to be the oldest member of the London Bullion Market Association, or LBMA. I mentioned them last time. The LBMA is a group that traders in the London wholesale bullion market must belong to. They are a major player in the world bullion market, yielding tremendous influence with their “Good Delivery” accreditation. Bars of gold and silver bullion bearing such accreditation are trusted around the globe.

scotiagoldScotiaMocatta is also one of the five original participants in the London Gold Fixing. No, it’s not a rigged sport (although the more conspiratorial among us might disagree). The gold fixing is simply how the spot price of gold is set, two times every business day.

They also have a seat on the London Silver Fixing, and are the only original members of both price fixes to have consistently maintained their membership to this day.

But I digress. The inaugural London Gold Fixing happened in 1919, so it really isn’t that far removed from us historically. The point is that ScotiaMocatta is one of the market makers. And the reason ScotiaMocatta features so prominently on the bullion stage is because it’s been around for a while, with roots that go back to the 17th century.

In 1671, a bullion company was founded by one Moses Mocatta. Apparently he was a very successful businessman or well-connected or both, because within a few short years Mocatta was shipping silver as far away as India. By the 18th century, they were brokers to both the East India Company and the Bank of England itself. The company served in this position through the 19th century and the high water mark of the British Empire under Queen Victoria.

All the while remaining a family-run business.

In the late 1770s, early ‘80s, Asher Goldsmid and his family joined the business, and the company became Mocatta and Goldsmid. It survived in this incarnation--a Mocatta or Goldsmid in charge the whole time--until 1957, the year it merged with Hambros Bank.

As part of Hambros, Mocatta energetically pursued bullion deals around the world--including the Soviet Union. It also began trading in options and precious metals futures.

Standard Chartered Bank, a British bank formed in 1969 with roots in India and South Africa, bought Mocatta from Hambros in 1973 and renamed it Mocatta Bullion. Then, in 1997, Scotiabank acquired the company and turned it into the bank’s global bullion division.

In this capacity, Mocatta offers precious metal trading, base metal trading, financial assets related to bullion and precious metals, and physical metal distribution. It also offers its own branded gold and silver bullion rounds and bars that bear the Scotiabank logo.

So there you have it. A European bullion and precious metals company with a history longer than the United States has been a country.

And... they’re from Canada.

Globalization. Gotta love it.

-Ron
 

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