Japanese pension fund buys gold -- but only the ETF kind


Japanese Pension Fund Switches to Gold

By Ben McLannahan
Financial Times, London
Wednesday, May 16, 2012


TOKYO -- Okayama Metal & Machinery has become the first Japanese pension fund to make public purchases of gold, in a sign of dwindling faith in paper currencies.

Initially, the fund aims to keep about 1.5 per cent of its total assets of Y40 billion ($500 million) in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds, according to chief investment officer Yoshisuke Kiguchi, who said he was diversifying into gold to "escape sovereign risk."

The move into a non-yielding asset comes as funds in the world's second-biggest pension market are under increasing pressure to meet promised payments, as domestic interest rates remain rooted near zero. This year, the first of Japan's baby boomers turn 65, becoming eligible for payouts.

... Dispatch continues below ...


Prophecy Platinum (TSXV: NKL) and Ursa Major Minerals
Sign Combination Agreement

Company Press Release
Friday, March 2, 2012

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada -- Prophecy Platinum Corp. (TSX-V: NKL, OTC-QX: PNIKF, Frankfurt: P94P) and Ursa Major Minerals Inc. have signed a binding letter of agreement for a business combination through a proposed all-share transaction. In doing so Prophecy and Ursa have acted at arm's length and the transaction has been negotiated at arm's length.

Prophecy will issue one common share in exchange for every 25 outstanding common shares of Ursa. Ursa options and warrants will be exchanged for options and warrants of Prophecy on an agreed schedule.

Prophecy's offer represents a value of about $0.15 per each common share of Ursa based on Prophecy's share price of $3.70 as at March 1, representing a premium of 130 percent to Ursa's March 1 closing price of $0.065.

Prophecy is to subscribe for $1 million common shares of Ursa by way of private placement financing at $0.06 per share, subject to regulatory approval. Upon placement completion, John Lee and Greg Hall, current Prophecy directors, will be appointed to Ursa's board.

Prophecy thus will become a mid-tier resource company with a robust and diversified pipeline of platinum nickel projects, including:

-- The fully permitted open-pit Shakespeare PGM-Ni-Cu mine close to Sudbury, Ontario, infrastructure with near-term production capabilities.

-- The flagship Wellgreen (Yukon) PGM-Ni-Cu project with more than 10 million ounces of Pt-Pd-Au inferred resource. Drilling is under way and a preliminary economic assessment study is pending.

-- Manitoba's Lynn Lake Ni-Cu project with more than 262 million pounds Ni and 138 million pounds Cu measured and indicated.

For the complete announcement, please visit Prophecy Platinum's Internet site here:


Mr Kiguchi said the lack of yield was a concern for the fund's investment committee, but he persuaded them that "from a very long-term point of view, gold may be one of the safe currencies." He added that he had sold Australian dollars this month to meet his initial target allocation for gold for the fund, which has 20,000 members.

Mizuho Trust & Banking, a unit of Mizuho Financial Group, has begun to offer investment schemes allowing smaller pension funds to invest in gold.

While few fund managers are counting on a crash in core assets such as Japanese government bonds, said Takahiro Morita, head of the Tokyo arm of the World Gold Council, a producers' association, they were increasingly receptive to the idea that gold could act as a buffer against shocks. "Last year's tsunami and the eurozone debt crisis shows that it was wise to expect the unexpected," he said.

Historically, institutions in the $3.4 trillion Japanese pension market have clung to traditional assets. Bonds accounted for 59 per cent of industry assets in 2011, the highest share in the world, according to Towers Watson, a consultant. Just 6 per cent -- the lowest share -- was invested in alternatives such as property, private equity and hedge funds.

Within Japan the image of gold has struggled to recover the lustre lost after a scandal in the mid-1980s involving Toyota Shoji, which duped thousands of elderly investors by promising gold bars that were never delivered. Now, though, households are showing more interest.

Nomura, Japan's biggest wealth manager, added a gold option to its monthly survey of 1,000 randomly selected retail investors in February. Every month since, gold has been ranked the third-most desirable addition to portfolios, well ahead of competing assets such as investment trusts, bonds or foreign securities.

With institutions warming to gold too, demand could grow further.

"If you look at assets over the past couple of decades, equity has been a loser, while fixed-income offers tiny coupons," said Yoshio Kuno, Japan head of Newedge, the futures broker. "Gold is becoming an acceptable currency substitute."

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Sona Discovers Potential High-Grade Gold Mineralization
at Blackdome in British Columbia -- 13.6g over 1.5 Meters

From a Company Press Release
November 22, 2011

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- With its latest surface diamond drilling program at its 100-percent-owned, formerly producing Blackdome gold mine in southern British Columbia, Sona Resources Corp. has discovered a potentially high-grade gold-mineralized area, with one hole intersecting 13.6 grams of gold in 1.5 meters of core drilling.

"We intersected a promising new mineralized zone, and we feel optimistic about the assay results," says Sona's president and CEO, John P. Thompson. "We have undertaken an aggressive exploration program that has tested a number of target zones. Our discovery of this new gold-bearing structure is significant, and it represents a positive development for the company."

Sona aims to bring its permitted Blackdome mill back into production over the next year and a half, at a rate of 200 tonnes per day, with feed from the formerly producing Blackdome mine and the nearby Elizabeth gold deposit property. A positive preliminary economic assessment by Micon International Ltd., based on a gold price of $950 per ounce over eight years, has estimated a cash cost of $208 per tonne milled, or $686 per gold ounce recovered.

For the company's complete press release, please visit: