The government of Botswana is buying a 24 per cent stake in the Belgian manufacturer HB Antwerp, as its long-term deal with De Beers increasingly appears to be in jeopardy.
The move heralded “the dawn of a new era for the diamond industry in Botswana,” said the country’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
As part of the deal Okavango, the state-owned diamond company, is also entering a five-year agreement to supply rough diamonds to HB Antwerp.
President Masisi has repeatedly threatened to walk away from the deal unless De Beers agreed to more favorable terms.
But Bruce Cleaver, co-chairman of De Beers Group, yesterday told delegates at Israel Diamond week that he remained confident that both sides could achieve a win-win result.
Back in November 2022, the President slammed the Sunday Standard newspaper, in Botswana, for running a story headlined “Masisi to ditch De Beers for Lucara and HB Antwerp?”.
It reported that Okavango was planning to sell its specials (+10.8-carats) to Canada-based Lucara and to HB Antwerp instead of De Beers
The original agreement, dating back over half a century, was that De Beers would sell 90 per cent of the country’s diamonds and Okavango would sell the remaining 10 per cent.
In 2020 the split was adjusted to 75-25. Botswana has not disclosed what is sees as a fair share, but a Reuters report yesterday said the figure could be as high as 50 per cent, double its current allocation.
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