The Ministry of International Trade and Industry is considering allowing commodities brokerages to sell commodities trading funds, sources at the ministry and several companies involved said Wednesday.
Five companies may begin sales of a joint fund as early as next month, they added.The ministry is studying whether to let commodities brokerages sell the
funds and whether to allow them to invest in domestic as well as overseas commodities markets, a MITI official said.
Non-bank financial institutions such as leasing firms and general trading companies are already allowed to sell funds that invest in overseas commodities markets. They are not allowed to invest in Japanese commodities markets.
The official said a new law governing the commodities industry would have to be passed by the Japanese legislature - the Diet - before commodities trading firms would be legally able to operate commodities investment funds. He said the law, to be submitted to the Diet this spring, could be passed by May or June.
The ministry may allow companies to begin selling the funds before the law is passed, the MITI official said. There is a 50 percent chance that sales could begin as early as next month, he said.
Five Japanese commodities brokerages - Ace Koeki Co., Dai-Ichi Shohin Co., Hokushin Bussan Co., Kanetsu Shoji Co. and Tokio Medex Corp. - are considering cooperating to offer such a fund, sources at the companies said. They could not say when the sales might start.
A source at one firm said each company would contribute 500 million yen ($3.78 million) to the 2.5 billion ($18.92 million) fund, which would be named "Gold Pentagon '91." He emphasized that the deal has not been completed.
If the plan does proceed, 70 percent of the funds would be used to invest in gold futures and the physical gold market, sources said. The remaining 30 percent would be divided among other commodities markets.