Danger Lurks in Delay of Gold Trust Share Offer

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BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK) announced Friday morning the temporary suspension of its plan to create new shares of the iShares Gold Trust (NYSEMKT: IAU) until the new shares can be registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The exchange-traded commodity fund, which holds physical gold as an asset, has $8 billion in assets under management.

Demand for gold has jumped since the beginning of 2016 and the surge has led to a “temporary exhaustion of IAU shares currently registered.” The BlackRock subsidiary that sponsors the fund, iShares Delaware Trust Sponsor, will register new shares by filing a Form 8-K with the SEC that announces the resumption of the new shares offer. The firm expects the filing to be completed before the close of normal settlement cycles (six days for registered market makers) and that the filing will enable resumption of normal new share creations.

Meanwhile, BlackRock notes that business will continue as usual:

This suspension does not affect the ability of retail and institutional investors to trade on stock exchanges. Retail and institutional investors will continue to be able to buy and sell shares in IAU. … The ability of authorized participants to redeem shares of IAU is not affected.

That does not mean that there are no effects. Lacking the ability to issue new shares could result in the value of IAU shares rising faster than the price of gold. Retail investors may not see this happening, and when new shares are finally available, the price of the fund’s shares will drop, taking unsuspecting investors by surprise.

The fund traded up less than 1% midday Friday. at $12.25 in a 52-week range of $10.12 to $12.37. Each share of IAU is theoretically equal to one one-hundredth (0.01) ounces of gold.