Botswana to Safeguard its 15% Stake in De Beers

Botswana’s president has pledged to protect his country’s 15% stake in De Beers if a proposed takeover of its parent company Anglo American goes ahead.

“The value of De Beers is fundamentally created by Botswana. Without Botswana De Beers doesn’t exist,” Mokgweetsi Masisi said.

He said nobody had approached his country about the US$39 billion bid by Australian mining giant BHP to acquire Anglo.

De Beers and the Botswana government are joint owners of Debswana, the largest diamond producer in the world by value.

BHP exited the diamond business in 2013 and would almost certainly sell off De Beers if its deal goes ahead.

Anglo had reportedly been talking to luxury houses and Gulf sovereign-wealth funds as possible buyers for De Beers for several weeks before the BHP bid.

De Beers is currently making a loss, seeking budget savings and scaling back production as global diamond demand remains depressed.

BHP has until 22nd May, under UK takeover rules, to make a firm bid or walk away. If the BHP deal doesn’t happen, luxury goods companies (such as LVMH, Hermes or Richemont) or other miners (Glencore or Rio Tinto, for example) could enter the fray.

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