Page last updated at 23:36 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 00:36 UK

IMF plans gold sale to raise $6bn

Gold bars
The IMF hopes to cash in from the soaring price of gold

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed selling some of its gold holdings as part of radical plans to shore up its troubled finances.

It hopes to raise at least $6bn (3bn) from the sale of 12.97 million ounces of gold, about 12% of the total held.

As the IMF's role as a lender to troubled economies shrinks, so it needs to find other ways to access funds.

Gold has surged recently as traders looked for havens to protect their cash from troubled financial markets.

The gold sale is dependent on approval by US Congress.

It also relies on approval from many of the 185 countries that are members of the Washington-based institution.

It is a fundamental step that will enable the institution to remain an independent, astute, and dynamic international organisation
IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Khan

'Difficult choice'

IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn called the decision a "difficult but necessary choice" that will help to modernise the group and put it on a "solid financial footing".

IMF officials said the sale would likely take place over several years in an effort to avoid market disruption.

Gold prices reached an all-time record above $1,000 an ounce in March, but have been volatile since then.

Gold futures for June delivery added $13.60 to $926.80 an ounce in New York trade.

The IMF holds 103.4m ounces of gold. As of 20 February, they were worth $95.2bn.

New income framework

The funds from the IMF's gold sale would be used to buy US government and corporate bonds to generate income and plug a $400m shortfall in funds that is projected over the next two to three years.

It is part of a dramatic overhaul of its income model, which has over the past 60 years been reliant on lending to poor countries to support its role as the supervisor of the world economy.

But the need for its emergency loans has tailed off in the past decade as many developing economies, particularly in Asia, have built up large reserves of foreign currency to reduce the risk of a future crisis.

This also prompted the IMF to make $100m of spending cuts from its budget over the next three years to 2011.

The move "will enable the institution to remain an independent, astute, and dynamic international organisation that facilitates global cooperation and action to ensure financial stability and prosperity for all," Mr Strauss-Kahn said.

It follows a decision last month to move voting power away from traditional industrial powers including the US, the UK and Germany to powerful emerging countries, including China, India and Brazil, which are playing a growing role in the world economy.

Emerging economies eye IMF power
23 Oct 07 |  Business
IMF backs shift in voting power
28 Mar 08 |  Business
Gold hits yet another record high
14 Mar 08 |  Business
Gold hits $1,000 for first time
13 Mar 08 |  Business
30 years of gold highs and lows
13 Mar 08 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific