MINTS may have a licence to print money but in the era of privatisations, even currency producers are reaching out to new markets. Last week, the semi-privatised Austrian Mint released one of the world's top selling bullion coins, the Vienna Gold Coin, to Hong Kong investors. 'Small investors who want to buy gold in an attractive coin for themselves or for a gift will be the customers we will target in Hong Kong,' said mint managing director Paul Berger. The coins, legal tender in Austria, come in one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce and one-tenth ounce sizes with face values denominated in Austrian schillings and pegged to the deutschmark. More than 3.3 million of them have been sold worldwide, making them Europe's top-selling bullion coins. The smallest in the series has a face value of 200 schillings while the largest, which contains an ounce of gold, has a face value of 2,000 schillings. Their value will fluctuate according to the price of gold, which has recently been trading close to US$380 ($2,933) per ounce. They have been released in Hong Kong - via the Hang Seng Bank - because of their popularity in Japan, where they are the second best sellers, and because of gold's traditional popularity in the territory as an inflation hedge. 'Gold is the part of your portfolio that you can always count on,' said Mr Berger. Hong Kong, Taiwan and China bought in 110.5 tonnes during the third quarter this year, double the amount in the same period last year. And much of the demand came from China, where there has been a revival in gold investments despite austerity measures. The World Gold Council said demand in Hong Kong grew to 11.5 tonnes in the third quarter, 180 per cent up on the same period last year. But despite the rise, not all dealers are positive about gold coins. Dominic Leung, managing director of Goldcorp Australia, the marketing arm of the Perth Mint, said the investment market in Hong Kong had been shrinking for the past four years. 'We are now the only bullion coin promotion company still in Hong Kong and we are only here because we diversified into gold medallions,' he said.