Representatives of 35 banks met at the Bank of England today to discuss ways of bailing out the cash-starved International Tin Council, and sources close to the discussions said the envoys devised a rescue proposal.
Tin trading has been suspended on the London Metal Exchange since Oct. 24, when the tin council ran out of money and stopped supporting prices by buying surplus tin.
Trading is to resume Nov. 18, whether or not the tin council can meet its debts, but the crisis has threatened to collapse the market, severely hurt producer countries and bankrupt dealers who have loaned the council money.
Banking sources said the other banks were brought in to today's talks because of the potential threat to all the LME's 27 firms, though only about half of these have a direct exposure to the ITC. Analysts estimate that the ITC's debts to brokers could total around $850 million.
The difficulties for brokers created by the ITC's insolvency could be transmitted to the rest of the LME, which trades in copper, aluminum, nickel, lead, zinc and silver as well as tin.
There are already signs that, if nothing is agreed to before trading resumes, many brokers may be in deep water by next week.
Sources close to the Bank of England discussions, who agreed to discuss the matter only on condition they not be identified, said the meeting produced a plan to help the tin council pay creditors, provided the council's member nations give financial guarantees.
Unlike a plan proposed last week by 16 financial institutions that are owed $426 million by the tin council, the new proposal deals with wider interests of all banks involved with the metal exchange, the sources said.
The tin council is composed of six producing nations and 16 consuming countries, and their governments have been unwilling to guarantee the tin council's debts. Delegates from the 22 nations are scheduled to meet in London on Thursday.
Also today, the exchange announced that Malaysian Mining Corp. Metals Ltd. had suspended dealings and that the exchange had withdrawn the company's trading privileges.