With the Antwerp diamond industry facing a host of challenges, and developing multiple initiatives, when it comes to financing, it appears that one bank recognizes an opportunity. Avi Krawitz of Rapaport News today reported that the National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to open a representative office in Antwerp. Davy Blommaert, head of diamond lending at NBF, told Rapaport News on the sidelines of the Dubai Diamond Conference, “I’ve been pushing for the move for a long time because there’s an opportunity to cherry-pick some clients.”
Krawitz writes that Blommaert visited Antwerp last summer to scout out the opportunities: "He noted that a gap had opened as European banks cut their lending to the diamond sector, with Antwerp Diamond Bank (ADB) closing its doors and Standard Chartered Bank withdrawing from lending to the diamond trade. The NBF delegation met with representatives from Belgium’s central bank, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and prospective clients, and Blommaert expects the office to open in the first quarter of 2018. It will enable the bank to service Antwerp-based companies with dollar-based lending in Dubai." However, writes Krawitz, Blommaert, "cautioned that the global industry was still considered a high-risk sector and that further consolidation and bankruptcies should be expected."
Blommaert told Rapaport, “There are too many diamantaires vying for rough, and that has resulted in them paying premiums for goods that are not necessarily required by the market. Ultimately, a clean-up [in the midstream] must happen and I believe we will see more consolidation in the next few years. At the same time, there are good companies that are struggling to get financing who we can help.””