BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) announced enhancements to its gold offerings to meet the growing demand for gold investing and make the gold market accessible to the broadest group of financial advisors, institutional and individual investors. These initiatives, which leverage the Firm's capabilities across the globe and build on BlackRock's leadership in old products outside of the U.S. market, involve two distinct investment offerings for clients looking to invest in gold:
• A Mutual Fund Focused on Gold-Related Equities: The BlackRock World Gold Fund invests in equity securities of gold-related companies from around the world and seeks to maximize total return. The Fund is managed by an experienced team of industry specialists — led by Evy Hambro and Catherine Raw — who are part of BlackRock's London based Natural Resources Team which manages more than $35 billion in assets, as of March 31, 2010. Mr. Hambro and Mrs. Raw have extensive experience managing gold-related products which have historically been marketed and sold outside the U.S, giving worldwide investors access to their expertise and insights through the World Gold Fund.
• An Enhanced Physical Gold Exchange Traded Offering: The Firm is refining the iShares COMEX Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU), which holds physical gold. The enhancements to this product will provide investors with broader access to the gold market and more flexibility in adjusting the gold allocation of their portfolio through the potential for increased liquidity and lower total costs. "Given the increasing interest for gold among all investor types, our strong leadership in the sector, and the significant opportunities for growth, we are taking steps to continue building out the investment opportunities available to our clients," said Robert Fairbairn, Vice Chairman of BlackRock and Head of the Global Client Group. "BlackRock has long been a leader in gold investing — with a wide range of investment solutions around the globe and a leadership position outside the U.S. And, these two product offerings are an ideal example of how we can leverage the breadth and depth of BlackRock around the world to deliver the best possible solutions for our clients."
"Exchange traded products have revolutionized investor access to the gold markets and reignited interest in the sector in recent years," said Mr. Hambro, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager for the BlackRock World Gold Fund. "This increased accessibility to the gold market, the decline in gold production since its peak in 2001, and a shift in Central Bank strategy towards accumulating rather than selling gold reserves have all been instrumental in supporting the upward trend in the price of gold over the past nine years. The new initiatives we're announcing today will complement — and build on — BlackRock's other gold offerings, and make the gold market even more accessible to both individual and institutional investors."
The Board of Directors of BlackRock Asset Management International Inc., the sponsor of the iShares COMEX Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU), has approved several changes to the Gold Trust which include: reducing the share price – and increasing the Trust's shares outstanding - through a previously announced 10-for-1 share split, effective June 24, 2010; and leveraging BlackRock's broader platform to drive greater operating efficiencies for the Trust. BlackRock is passing those cost savings along to investors by reducing the Trust's sponsor fee from 0.40% to 0.25%, effective July 1, 2010.
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