As we welcome a new year and extend our hopes that you, our readers, will enjoy good health and good fortune in 2020, we take a moment to look back at the issues and articles of the past year that most sparked your interest.
According to several reports, LVMH's raised offer of 16.7 billion US dollar - from the 14.5 billion offered and declined earlier - might be convincing enough to persuade TIffany's and the deal could be concluded fast, insiders say. If so, Tiffany's would be joining LVMH's portfolio, which includes Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton and Dior and put the luxury conglomerate in a more interesting position to compete with rivals, such as the Swiss-based Richemont.
The first ever direct tender in Antwerp of 350,000 carats of rough diamonds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) delivered on all expectations.Out of 115 companies, both Antwerp-based companies and foreign buyers from Israel, India, Dubai and other countries, attending the viewings, 79 companies placed 426 bids on 36 lots.
Over the course of the next five to ten years, tax experts believe more indirect and direct taxes will be levied in the Arab Gulf states (GCC), such as the UAE, including taxes on wealth and property, corporate and income tax. As oil prices are expected to remain low, the new taxes, some of which will be implemented by the end of this year, should open up new sources of revenue to fund budgets, which are under pressure as oil revenues decline.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa's Shareholders have decided to pay dividends for the first half of 2019 in the amount of 28.3 billion rubles ($434 million) or 3.84 rubles ($0.059) per share. Therefore, the company will allocate 100% of its free cash flow for the corresponding period to pay out dividends, the miner has stated in a press release. The six months dividend yield will be at around 5%.
Warning - gory financial details ahead
Two years after becoming the biggest shareholder of the firm that owns De Beers diamonds, metals tycoon Anil Agarwal announced an exit from Anglo American by divesting his near 20 percent stake. Agarwal, the founder and controlling shareholder in Indian resource giant Vedanta Resources Plc., in March 2017 paid $2.5 billion for a 12.43 percent stake in Anglo American, and then bought a second tranche in September 2017, bringing his stake in the mining group to 19.3 percent. The bonds were to mature next year but Agarwal decided to exercise a call option and take profits on his investment.
The De Beers Group recorded a 27% decline in first-half earnings to $518 million (2018: $712 million) due to the challenging midstream trading environment and slowing consumer demand growth, parent company Anglo American stated in their interim financial results. The difficult market has led to a decrease in rough diamond prices and has put pressure on the margins of those in the trading business, the company said.
ABN Amro sent a letter to several of its diamond clients stating that it would be limiting finance for rough purchases "in view of the continued lack of profitability in the purchase of rough goods." The letter, which was obtained by JCK and IDEXonline, was sent last week from an Antwerp branch of the Dutch bank to a number of its clients declaring a moratorium on rough loans, pointing implicitly to the industry's reckless behavior in writing, "We recommend you to show constraint [sic] and only consider purchasing rough when there is sufficient profitability." In other words, the b
Firestone Diamonds today announced its 75%-owned subsidiary Liqhobong Mining Development has received a waiver from ABSA Bank for certain of its covenants measured as at 30 June 2019 in terms of the $82.4 million facility agreement, with the support of its bondholders. The next measurement date will be 30 June 2020.
Retailers and importers across the US - including those in the diamond and jewelry trade - breathed a collective sigh of relief this past weekend following the announcement of a temporary trade truce between the US and China, and an agreement to reopen negotiations. This past weekend at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, U.S. President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to a ceasefire that will forestall another punishing round of of $300 billion in tariffs Mr.
The withdrawal of India’s beneficiary status under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade program is expected to have a "moderate" impact on India's exports of gems and jewelry to the US, but will not directly impact diamond exports - contrary to what some have been reporting.
Russia diamond-mining giant Alrosa's shareholders at their Annual General Meeting decided to allocate 100% of free cash flow for the second half of 2018 to the period-end dividend – 30.3 billion rubles, or approximately $480 million. Taking into account the nearly $692 million (43.7 billion rubles) in dividends the company paid for the first half-year of 2018 (equaling $0.09 or RUB 5.93 per share), the total dividend for 2018 will amount a record $1.17 billion (RUB 73.9 billion) or $0.16 (RUB 10.04) per share.
Watches of Switzerland went public on the London Stock Exchange last week, enjoying a better-than-expected debut. Shares are set to openly trade days after conditional trading started for the UK’s dominant luxury watch retailer. Watches of Switzerland (WoS) is owned by US private equity company Apollo Global Management and is the top UK seller of luxury timepiece brands like Rolex and Mayors. Under the leadership of chief executive officer (CEO), Brian Duffy, WoS’s sales have grown to make up 35% of luxury watch sales in the UK.
The Antwerp Diamond Bourse (Beurs voor Diamanthandel) has made just one change in its 2019 composition of its Board of Directors, adding Mr. Bhavesh Morakhia as a new director. Jacques Korn remains President, David Gotlib remains the Bourse's Vice President, while Rajender Gehani and Raphael Rubin have been reelected as Executive Directors. Members of the board are elected for a four-year period.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa reported significant improvements in revenue and profitability in Q1 2019 as compared to the previous quarter, with the caveat being that their 2019 financial results are lagging far behind the same period a year earlier (Q1 2018).
The list of Chinese products to be hit by 25 percent tariffs imposed by the U.S. government at the behest of President Donald Trump is expansive and is potentially about to cover the entirety of consumer products from China, including a broad swath of jewelry products, as the trade war escalates rapidly. On May 9, the U.S.
Lucapa Diamond Company last week has agreed on funding and refinancing arrangements which will improve its financial position and reduce its financing costs, the company said in an ASX announcement. The move will enable Lucapa to reduce the higher-cost debt used to fund the development of the new high-value Mothae diamond mine in Lesotho.
The National Bank of Fujairah (NBF), with years of experience in the diamond sector in Dubai, has opened its first international representative office in the heart of the Antwerp Diamond District, the largest rough trading hub in the world. Opening a representative office will enable the bank to better service their Antwerp-based customers and will provide market intelligence to their headquarters in the UAE. The Dubai-based bank targets buyers and resellers of rough that have suitable business models, secure sources of income and solid product traceability.
While still lagging behind the levels of activity recorded in February 2018, India's diamond trade last month rebounded from a remarkably poor showing in January 2019. According to figures from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), exports of cut and polished diamonds from India fell by 3.51% year-on-year during the month of February 2019 to $2.34 billion as compared to the $2.43 billion exported in February 2018. However, February's exports represent a 34% increase over the $1.75 billion shipped out in January, which will come as a welcome sign to the Indian industry.
European Union finance ministers have agreed to add 10 countries to a blacklist of alleged tax havens, including the United Arab Emirates. According to Bloomberg, the agreement means the list will now have 15 jurisdictions, triple the number of what it had before the review. It comes just over a year after the EU agreed to “name and shame” a small number of nations as part of its efforts to fight opaque practices that facilitate tax avoidance by multinationals and individuals.
Searching for a means to safeguard smooth transactions in the event it ends up having US sanctions imposed on it, Russia's Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, has found a partner in its efforts to conduct trade in a currency other than the US dollar. Evgeny Agureev, Alrosa’s director of sales, told the South China Morning Post that it has enlisted one of its many Chinese customers - Chow Sang Sang Jewellery - on a long-term contract this year.
De Beers reported a 4% rise in total revenue for FY 2018, reaching $6.1 billion, but its earnings slid by 13% to $1.25 billion driven by expenditures such as the $87 million acquisition of Peregrine Diamonds and the launch of Lightbox Jewelry. Rough diamond sales rose by 4% to $5.4 billion (2017: $5.2 billion), driven by improved overall consumer demand for diamond jewelry and a 1% increase in the average rough diamond price index.
The partial shutdown of the US government is likely to have had a negative impact on exports of small diamonds from India to the US, according to Colin Shah, vice chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). This comes as unwelcome news to an industry that is already experiencing sluggish performance, with The Economic Times citing an 8.5% decline in the value of polished exports in the first nine months of FY2018, sitting at to $22.41 billion.
In a letter circulated to clients just before the turn of the year, India’s ICICI Bank UK Limited (Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India) announced it will be shutting down its branch in Antwerp effective March 29, 2019, bringing an end to its diamond trade financing. The last working day of the branch will be March 28, 2019, and clients were requested to close their accounts by February 28. The bank entered the Antwerp market in 2006.
Looking towards 2019, independent diamond industry analyst and consultant Paul Zimnisky, who covers the natural and the lab-created diamond industry, has identified three themes that will likely shape the diamond industry, exclusively for The Diamond Loupe. View the pdf verison here.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) this week traveled to Guangzhou, China, for a networking blitz/conference tour on the Mainland, jointly organized with the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange. Mainland China presents a massive new opportunity for growth beyond the traditional markets of Hong Kong and Shanghai, so the AWDC set off with a group of diamond traders to meet up with a delegation of Chinese jewelry manufacturers looking for polished diamond suppliers in Antwerp.
In an open letter to diamond traders, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office addresses the possibility that the UK will temporarily be unable to import and export rough diamonds if the nation leaves the European Union without an exit deal. At the moment, UK traders can trade in rough diamonds within the EU and to countries in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which regulates the international trade in rough diamonds. The EU is a participant of the Kimberley Process (KP) and acts on behalf of the UK.
Botswana Finance LLC, a subsidiary of Lazare Kaplan International (LKI) has signed a $125 million loan guaranty with Stanbic Bank Botswana, a member of Standard Bank Group and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. The loan guaranty will encourage and support lending to diamond manufacturers and polishing companies while allowing the organizations to share credit risk.
Last week, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the University of Antwerp hosted an “Innovation and Diamonds” conference at the Antwerpsche Diamantkring - the only rough diamond bourse in the world - featuring internationally-recognized experts from across the spectrum of the diamond trade, including alternative financing, the impact of digital on the luxury segment, the feasibility of small-scale ethical mining, as well as the earthquake and aftershocks of De Beers’ foray into lab-grown diamonds: LightBox.
According to Elizabeth Burden and Thomas Biesheuvel for Bloomberg, the Union Bank of India (UBI) is planning to pull out of the global diamond hub of Antwerp. The bank has given notice that it will close its branch in the Belgian city within a year, according to Chief Executive Officer Rajkiran Rai Gundyadka. "The viability of the branch isn’t established,” he said.
The 10% decline in bank finance to the gem and jewelry sector over the last few months will adversely impact exports from the industry during the year, the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said in a statement yesterday.
Signet Jewelers yesterday announced the completion of the final phase of its strategic outsourcing of credit through the sale of its existing non-prime receivables, for which the group received $445.5 million in cash proceeds.
Last week, the United States' Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing states to collect sales tax from online retailers even when a retailer has no physical presence in that state, sending shock waves and uncertainty across the retail landscape. States argued they were losing out on billions of dollars worth of online sales taxes annually as a result of the precedent set by a 1992 court decision, Quill Corp vs. North Dakota; the new Wayfair v.
China will cut import tariffs on nearly 1,500 consumer products as from July 1, including gold jewelry set with diamonds, as well as precious stones, in a bid to boost imports as part of efforts to open up its economy. A total of 18 tax items involving jewelry categories are included in the tariff reduction, with an average tariff rate drop of 68%.
Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) yesterday reported its financial results for the three months (Q1) ended April 30, 2018, which saw worldwide net sales increase 15% to $1.0 billion, led by gains in North America and Asia. As a result of broad-based sales growth, comparable sales increased 10%. Profits soared 53 percent, to $142 million, as shares jumped as much as 17 percent to $119.60 in New York trading, an all-time intraday high and the biggest one-day leap in almost a decade.
ABN Amro, the largest and longstanding financier to the diamond and jewelry industry, is closing its lending offices in New York and Dubai as it continues to cut back on financing to the trade as a whole. Brigitte Seegers, a spokeswoman for the Dutch bank, initially announced the move during a first quarter earnings call last week, which will leave Antwerp and Hong Kong as the bank's last divisions standing.
The so-called "Carat Tax", the institutionalized tax regime which the Belgian federal government implemented for the Belgian diamond trade in tax year 2016, yielded significantly higher revenues in 2017 than expected, according to Belgian newspapers De Standaard and Gazet van Antwerpen. The special tax on diamonds delivered $84 million (€68.4 million, converted at average 90-day exchange rate) to the Treasury against forecasted earnings of $61.25 million (€50 million), and dwarfed last year's earnings of $62.7 million (€51.2 million), a nearly 34% increase in revenues.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), together with its Indian counterpart the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), formally launched today in Mumbai a powerful new tool to bring greater compliance and transparency to diamond transactions. The know-your-customer (KYC) exchange platform, called MyKYCBank, provides a centralized platform for companies in the diamond industry to complete and manage more efficiently their KYC obligations in conformity with global standards.
Hong Kong's imports and exports of rough and polished diamonds saw a solid to significant upswing across all categories during the first quarter of 2018 (Jan-March), according to figures published Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, China. Polished diamond imports to the trade hub increased by 10% in value to $5.17 billion from the import of nearly 5.3 million carats worth of the polished gems. Hong Kong's exports and re-exports rose by 4% to $3.53 billion from 3.7 million carats.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cabinet has announced that it is reversing the 5 percent value added tax (VAT) for investors in gold, diamond and precious metals at the wholesale level. Doing so will “contribute to stabilising the gold and diamond sector in the UAE as well as stimulating investment in this sector”, a statement said following the Cabinet decision. The move, which goes into effect immediately, is expected to ease the pressure on gold and diamond traders in the country. Retailers will continue to impose 5 percent on all jewelry transactions taking place at their shops.
Israel’s polished-diamond exports declined 33% to $1.16 billion in the first quarter of 2018, according to Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry as reported by Rapaport News. The results stand in sharp contrast to diamond exports in Q1 2017, which jumped to $1.696 billion as a result of international trade shows, and also fell well short of the $1.467 billion in exports recorded in Q1 2016.
India's cut and polished diamond exports increased by 4.2% to $23.7 billion for the financial year 2017-18 (April - March), while the value of rough diamond imports to the manufacturing hub rose by 10.6% to $18.9 billion, according to figures from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The average price per carat in the category of polished diamond exports saw an 18% increase, from approximately $614 per carat to $725 per carat.
Yesterday evening, during the City of Antwerp’s Mission to Russia, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) signed a cooperation agreement with the Russian diamond mining company, ALROSA, expanding and strengthening the long-standing, privileged relationship between two leading organizations in the diamond industry. The objective of this new cooperation agreement is to improve the scope and efficiency of the ties between ALROSA and AWDC, and to commit to supporting one another across a broad spectrum of topics, from the open exchange of information to the promotion of joint marketing initiat
Eira Thomas was recently appointed as the new CEO of Lucara Diamond Corp., replacing William Lamb, who oversaw the successful creation of the world-class Karowe mine in Botswana. Thomas brings more than 25 years’ experience in the mining industry to Lucara, including 16 years with Aber Diamond Corporation (now Dominion Diamond), where she played an integral role as a geologist at its initial discovery and ultimately became Director of the Board.
After the $2 billion worth of fraud allegations against Indian jewelry tycoon Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems chief Mehul Choksi shocked the Indian diamond industry, the last thing it needed was more bad news, which is precisely what they got. Jewelry chain Kanishk Gold, which also owns the Krizz jewelry brand, has been named in defrauding 14 banks, including the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and the State Bank of India (SBI), for an amount close to as $126.4 million, or Rs 824 crore. Taking into account interest due, the loss to banks exceeds $153 million (Rs 1,000 crore). The SBI has sought th
Tiffany & Co. reported that its global net sales for FY 2017 (ended January 31, 2018) increased 4% to $4.2 billion, reflecting sales growth in most regions - particularly in the U.S. and China. However, its comparable store sales remained flat for the year despite 9% sales growth in the fourth quarter (Q4). During Q4, on a constant-exchange-rate basis, worldwide net sales rose 6% and comparable store sales were 1% above the prior year, falling short of estimates of a 2.7% gain.
Russia's ALROSA, the world's largest diamond producer, saw its profits tumble by 41% in FY 2017 owing to a variety of factors, including: a 13% ruble appreciation against the US dollar, a 9% decrease in the average price of gem-quality diamonds sold and fallout from the tragic Mir mine flood. The financial downturn took place against the background of increases in the volume of diamonds sold as well as production.
The latest fallout from the Nirav Modi-Gitanjali scandal that has rocked India's diamond and jewelry sector comes in the form of the State Bank of India's (SBI) decision to tighten the collateral demands on borrowers from the industry. India’s largest lender has told borrowers in the gems and jewelry sector to either bring in more collateral to back their existing loans or reduce the size of them in a timely manner.
After shooting out of the starting blocks in January with significant increases across the board, imports to and exports from the diamond capital came back down to earth in February, following De Beers' pattern from its second sight of the year where rough sales fell 17% from January. According to figures published by the AWDC, February rough diamond exports fell 21% in volume and 6% in value to $1.02 billion from $1.09 billion in February last year.
India's polished diamond exports during the month of January 2018 rose to US$2.08 billion from US$1.62 bn in January 2017, a jump of 28.8% according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Meanwhile, rough imports were up by 13.68% in value terms during the month to US$1.44 billion as compared to US$1.27 bn imported during the previous January. In volume terms, however, rough imports declined from 15.3 million carats during January 2017 to 13.3 million carats during January this year.
Israel's diamond trade decined in terms of the volume and value traded for the third straight year, according to Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry as reported by Rapaport News. The industry's polished exports fell 4% on the year to just under $4.5 billion, while volume of polished exports fell 6% to 1.7 million carats. Rapaport further notes that exports to the US, the largest market for the Israeli diamonds, declined 7% to $1.69 billion, while shipments to Belgium bounced back, surging 20% to $420 million.
The Nirav Modi bank fraud investigation in India appears to have spread its wings, as three more major Indian jewelers - Gitanjali, Ginni and Nakshatra - have also come under the gaze of various investigating agencies following the Punjab National Bank's (PNB) declaration of nearly $1.8 billion (Rs 11,400 crore) fraud, committed allegedly by Nirav Modi.
The Bank of Israel has agreed to open a $285 million (Nis 1 billion) credit line to diamond traders in the form of government-backed loans in response to calls from the industry to alleviate a credit crunch that is hurting their competitiveness.
The Israel Diamond Exchange is turning to digital currencies to inject new life into a marketplace, in the hopes that the introduction of virtual currency will make trading more efficient and less opaque. The two new cryptocurrencies are backed by gems: the first, called Cut, was launched last week for use between dealers in the diamond market. Citing a recent report by Israel’s Justice Ministry, Reuters writes that current transactions are “often carried out anonymously, with the shake of a hand and minimal documentation”.
The Antwerp diamond trade booked stable results overall in 2017, according to a press release from industry representative body the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). They note that after a very difficult 2015, the Antwerp diamond trade stabilized in 2016, and this trend continued over past year as the industry traded a total of $US46 billion in diamonds ($US48 billion in 2016). In 2017, a total of 233.6 million carats of diamonds were imported to and exported from Antwerp.
India's GST (Goods and Services Tax) Council met on January 18 slashed the tax rate on 54 services and 29 items, including polished diamonds. Diamond processors and jewellery exporters in the country Around 94 percent of the diamonds processed in the country would attract 0.25 per cent GST effective Friday, according to Business Standard, down from three percent, following the GST Council's decision. This adjustment, however, only applies to trade between Indian states.
Recent reports ranging from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council's (GJEPC) lobbying efforts to change the Goods & Services Tax (GST) for the diamond industry, to Indian manufacturing companies looking to set up cutting and polishing units in Russia and an estimated $158 million in couriered diamond parcels seized on suspicion of tax evasion have the Indian industry hot under the collar about the GST.
The tax regimes in the four major diamond midstream trading centers - Antwerp, India, Dubai and Israel - have been the topic of great discussion and significant change in recent years. The beginning of this year saw the tax policies in both Belgium (Antwerp) and Israel (Tel Aviv) change. These countries levied a minimum tax on diamond companies, which was levied as a percentage of the turnover. While this was termed as a “turnover-based tax”, it was never truly a turnover-based tax.
Bain & Company, together with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), has published their seventh annual report on the global diamond industry, "The enduring story in a changing world", covering industry developments in 2016 and the first half of 2017 as well as the challenges the industry faces and how it is turning them into opportunities. Their report looks at key issues along the value chain, from rough-diamond production and sales, to midstream performance and global diamond jewelry demand in major markets.