Singapore gets first dedicated silver vault

Above: An employee opening a crate filled with
1,000 ounce bars of
silver inside The Safe House (left), a vault operated by Silver Bullion.
Above: An employee opening a crate filled with 1,000 ounce bars of silver inside The Safe House (left), a vault operated by Silver Bullion.PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, THE SAFE HOUSE
Above: An employee opening a crate filled with
1,000 ounce bars of
silver inside The Safe House (left), a vault operated by Silver Bullion.
Above: An employee opening a crate filled with 1,000 ounce bars of silver inside The Safe House (left), a vault operated by Silver Bullion.PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, THE SAFE HOUSE

Silver Bullion says depository a vote of confidence in the precious metal

The price of silver may have fallen over the past three years, but the founder of Silver Bullion, Mr Gregor Gregersen, has great confidence in the precious metal.

So much so that today, he launches The Safe House, the first depository dedicated to storing silver here.

The Chai Chee Lane facility has a maximum capacity of 600 tonnes of silver. Another vault within the main vault can store up to 25 tonnes of gold.

Silver Bullion currently holds 36 tonnes of silver, which is mainly kept at Ferrari Logistics.

But with Ferrari - and Singapore FreePort, his storage provider before that - running out of space, Mr Gregersen saw the need to open his own vault.

"As more bullion comes to Singapore, gold tends to push out silver," he said.

Since Silver Bullion was founded in 2009, it has sold about $170 million in bullion and is storing about $65 million worth of the precious metal for its customers, Mr Gregersen said.

The Safe House boasts vibration sensors on its walls, motion detectors overhead and 52 security cameras. Access is through a 2.5 tonne, UL-rated Class 1 vault door, which means it can withstand a 30-minute forced entry test.

The vault for gold storage has 30cm-thick walls and is UL-rated Class 2, which means it requires an hour to breach.

All-risk insurance protects the stored bullion. Issued by XL Group, a Lloyd's underwriter, the insurance includes full infidelity - if employees make off with the silver - and mysterious disappearance, at up to US$100 million (S$127 million) per loss.

In the vault, each 500 ounce bag of silver is packaged in a unique parcel and allocated to a particular customer.

"It is taken off our balance sheet and becomes an asset to the customer," Mr Gregersen said.

"One of the problems in bullion storage is that when it is on a company's balance sheet, they take it and lease it (creating complications if a middle party goes bust). In our case, if we were to go bankrupt, the customer would still own the bullion."

Forty per cent of his customers are from the United States, with another 25 per cent from Singapore. Others are from Malaysia, Europe, Australia and Indonesia.

Although the US has scaled back its financial stimulus programme, which has led to softer demand for precious metals as a safe haven, Mr Gregersen expects demand for the physical product to grow.

"People buy physical as they are worried about long-term trends. If you look at US debt - US$17 trillion - and (match it to the) assets their government has... it is just a matter of time until someone will no longer accept US dollars," he said.

The fear then is that governments in need of backing up their currency may nationalise physical assets - as in 1933, when the US nationalised all gold holdings, requiring those who possessed gold to turn it in.

"That is why they invest in bullion in Asia, as they want to be outside of the US and Europe. The customers we have don't look at bullion so much as investment, but as insurance," Mr Gregersen said.

wrennie@sph.com.sg

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments