Gold fix may rotate after Rothschild exit

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The decision by the City investment bank NM Rothschild to break with 200 years of tradition by pulling out of the gold trading market left other members pushing yesterday for changes to the way the historic market runs.

Sources close to the market said they wanted to use the opportunity to start rotating the chairmanship of the board which sets the price of gold twice a day between the five banks involved in the process.

Until Rothschild stepped down, it had been chairman of the price-fixing board since 1919 and had required the four other banks - including HSBC and Deutsche Bank - to come to its offices in St Swithin's Lane each day.

There were also suggestions that the process could be modernised in a similar way to the silver market, where prices are now fixed between market makers over the telephone.

Whoever buys Rothschild's seat on the board must be a market-making member of the London Bullion Market Association.

Those that qualify are AIG International, Barclays, JP Morgan, UBS and J Aron, which is owned by Goldman Sachs.

Other interested parties could first buy the seat and then become a market maker, but the process would take some time.