GLD, SPDR Gold Shares

The GLD is almost 6 years old, born Nov. 18, 2004, and is now the second biggest ETF in existence. The GLD is worth $55 billion and holds 41.8 million ounces or 1,301.91 tons. Currently its fee is 0.40% but that might rise in 2011.

The trustee for the GLD is Bank of New York Mellon ( BK) and the custodian is HSBC. According to the Web site, all the gold is held at HSBC's London vault. HSBC's sub-custodians are Bank of England and London Bullion Market Association.

As of October 4th, the GLD's total allocated bar count was 104,647 and its unallocated balance was 56. The vault was last inspected by Inspectorate International in February 2010 . The inspection randomly examined 12,650 bars of which were recorded at 99.50% to 99.99% purity. "No anomalies were identified on the gold count."

The GLD is by far the most popular gold ETF in existence. It attracted strong investment demand over the last few years by enticing some big named investors. Paulson & Co. is the largest shareholder with 31.5 million shares. Northern Trust ( NTRS) and Bank of America ( BAC) own 11.6 and 8.9 million shares respectively. Soros Fund Management, founded by George Soros, is the seventh largest holder with 5.2 million shares.

The GLD's sponsor is the World Gold Trust Services, a subsidiary of the World Gold Council whose sole purpose is to "stimulate and sustain the demand for gold" and whose members are the largest gold producers in the world including Barrick Gold ( ABX), Goldcorp ( GG) and Newmont Mining ( NEM).

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