China allows 3 more banks including StanChart to import gold -sources
* Shanghai Pudong Development, China Merchants Bank get license
* Standard Chartered is 3rd foreign bank allowed to import gold
* New licenses come ahead of launch of international exchange
By A. Ananthalakshmi and Fayen Wong
SINGAPORE/SHANGHAI, Aug 19 (Reuters) - China has allowed three more banks, including a foreign lender, to import gold, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, as the world's top gold buyer gears up for its strongest effort yet to gain pricing power of the metal.
The move, which brings the number of firms allowed to import gold into China to 15, comes ahead of the launch in September of a new international bullion exchange in Shanghai with which China hopes to become a price-discovery centre.
China and other Asian gold trading centres such as Singapore are calling for more localised pricing of the precious metal as they seek alternatives to the so-called London fix, the global benchmark for spot gold prices, which is being investigated by regulators on suspicion that it may have been manipulated.
Standard Chartered, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and China Merchants Bank were given regulatory approval recently to import gold, five sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
"We were given the license earlier this month. We haven't started importing yet but we will soon," said a source at one of the three banks, speaking on condition of anonymity as the news has not yet been publicly announced. Continued...