BlackRock announced Friday that the board of directors has authorized a 10-for-1 split of the popular iShares COMEX Gold Trust (NYSE: IAU) for shareholders of record as of June 21, payable after the close on June 23. Shares of IAU will begin trading with split-adjusted pricing on June 24. IAU is cross-listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange; split-adjusted trading will begin on the TSX on June 17.

With more than $3 billion in total assets, IAU is the second-largest physically backed gold ETF behind SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD) (see Why GLD Will Overtake SPY). IAU currently has about 2.7 million ounces of gold bullion in its vaults and 27.9 million shares outstanding, meaning that each share equates roughly with the ownership of one-tenth of an ounce of gold. After the completion of the split, the per-share value of IAU will decline, while the number of shares outstanding will increase. Recently, shares of IAU were trading at around $120.

Although it's one of the largest exchange-traded products offering exposure to commodity prices, IAU trails its primary competitor in the ETF space by a wide margin. GLD has about 1,300 tonnes of gold in its vaults, more than all but a few sovereign wealth funds. IAU's gold holdings come in at about 85 tonnes, a significant amount of bullion, but far smaller than the total of the gold SPDR.

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