LIMA/JOHANNESBURG, Nov 10 (Reuters) - An industry body to promote investment demand for platinum should be set for launch late this year or early 2015 as South African producers try to boost sales in the face of falling prices, industry and banking sources said.
The new body, called the World Platinum Investment Council, will most likely be based in London or Johannesburg, the sources said.
“This is a collaborative industry initiative. The aim is to promote investment into platinum,” said a source at a producer, who declined to be named.
The source said the world’s top platinum producers Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum were heavily involved but several of the smaller companies in the sector were also taking part in the discussions and would likely sign up and help finance it.
“There have been a number of meetings on this issue and they are still ongoing. We are looking for a launch date and are hoping to do it before the end of the year,” said another producer source.
Banking sources told Reuters that industry executives had met with London banks in July to discuss the council.
In a speech in August, Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith said the industry would be launching a body to promote investment demand. He said $13 billion of platinum is held as an investment, a significant amount despite limited promotion by the industry but still far lower than investment holdings of gold.
In a presentation to analysts last month, Amplats said it was focusing on promoting platinum demand via a joint producer funded entity to be launched in the last quarter of this year. A company spokesman said the company could not provide further details until the initiative was finalised.
The spot price for platinum, used in emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles, last week hit a five-year low of $1,181.50 an ounce.
It is also the latest example of cooperation in an industry that has long been fiercely competitive and secretive.
In part this is a consequence of an historic five-month strike this year that hit Amplats, Implats and Lonmin , bringing the trio together in the face of a common and unprecedented challenge.
The investment council will be modelled on the lines of the Platinum Guild International, which markets the metal to the jewellery trade, and the World Gold Council, which promotes demand for gold.
Founded in 1975 by South African producers and refiners, the platinum guild is a rare example of cooperation in the industry and is widely regarded as a successful tool that has promoted platinum jewellery. (Additional reporting by Silvia Antonioli in LONDON; Editing by Michael Urquhart)