In his latest blog, industry analyst Edahn Golan details how Israeli banks are further cutting financing to the Israeli diamond industry. In 2020, diamond financing in the country fell below $500 million for the first time in 30 years, marking a 33% decrease. Shrinking activity is one of the obvious reasons but complicated admin due to money laundering-related regulations specific to the diamond industry seems to be a burden to most banks. It seems they don’t consider it worth their while anymore.
In what could turn out to be a pivotal development in rough diamond financing for Alrosa's long-term clients, Antwerp-based international company Dali Diamond has signed a loan agreement with Eximbank of Russia (part of the Russian Export Center Group) for the financing of rough diamond purchases from Alrosa. Financing for the purchase of rough diamonds has been a major concern in recent years as several banks have reduced their exposure to the diamond market or withdrawn from it altogether.
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
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.
Eurostar Diamond Traders, one of the largest diamond companies in Antwerp, last week was declared bankrupt by the Antwerp Corporate Court. The manufacturing company, established in 1978 by Kaushik Mehta, said to have debts reaching up to half a billion euro ($560 million).
Polished diamond manufacturers in Surat and Mumbai have started liquidating their inventories at significant discounts of up to 30-40% in the attempt to settle loans with banks, writes the Times of India. The Indian daily says that diamond companies have been "given the ultimatum to settle their outstanding loan accounts before March 31."
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.
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.
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 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.
According to The National Jeweler, a Delaware judge this week has dismissed the Chapter 11 cases Exelco NV and its subsidiaries filed in the Delaware (US) Bankruptcy Court, ruling that the cases should be heard in Belgium. U.S.
ABN AMRO announced on November 30 that Diamond & Jewellery Clients (D&JC) will become part of Trade & Commodity Finance (TCF) within ABN AMRO’s Commercial & Institutional Banking business. It also announced that Geert van Reisen has been appointed interim Global Head of Diamond & Jewellery Clients, until all internal formalities have been arranged, with effect from 1 December 2017. Geert van Reisen takes over from Erik Jens who has decided to pursue his career outside the bank.
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.”
As Bloomberg first reported last week, Exelco North America, the local branch of the prominent Belgian diamond company Exelco NV, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. in an apparent attempt to prevent KBC Bank from liquidating the company's assests. Back in June, Belgian bank KBC Group NV seized assets from Exelco in an attempt to recover unpaid loans, according to court documents.
Back in February, the Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) hosted the "Diamond Financing 2017: New Opportunities, New Realities" seminar coinciding with the 2017 Presidents Meeting, the biannual gathering of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB). Avi Krawitz reports on the proceedings: "The bankers still view diamonds as a high-risk sector. Representatives from the diamond trade, meanwhile, feel there has been significant progress in improving the industry’s level of compliance, transparency and so-called bankability.
The Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) will host the International Diamond Conference, "Mines to Market 2017", to be held on March 19 and 20, 2017 in Mumbai. It will gather leading miners, diamantaires, retailers, bankers and analysts from across the globe on a single platform to discuss issues faced by the global diamond industry, such as supply and demand, marketing and financing, and will cover all aspects of the diamond pipeline including mining, midstream, marketing & retail, international finance, valuation with KP and diamond certification.
The Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) has announced the Israeli Diamond Industry has finalized the terms of an agreement with the Israeli Tax Authority.
The 2017 Presidents Meeting, the biennial gathering of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA), will take place in Mumbai from February 5 to 8, 2017, according to a press release from the WFDB secretariat in Antwerp. The Presidents Meeting starts off the WFDB's year of celebrations for its 70th anniversary and will also feature a major Diamond Financing Seminar and Roundtable.
Last Friday, Antwerp World Diamond Centre and the Government of Flanders hosted a seminar on innovation in diamond financing at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. A standing-room only crowd packed the stately Reynolds Room in Burlington House, surrounded by a series of 20th-century British impressionist paintings appropriately titled "Reinventing Landscape", and reinventing the diamond financing landscape is precisely what AWDC has in mind: "Innovation is driving the financial industry forward at an unprecedented pace.
An Italian regulator is investigating the sale of diamonds through bank branches across the country after a TV report alleged the stones were missold to the public, writes Reuters. Several Italian banks distribute diamonds for diamond brokers, an unusual partnership that generated around 300 million euros ($332.88 million) in sales for the brokers last year. State channel Rai3 said in October that several banks sold diamonds as financial products in bank branches at twice the market price.
Four Israeli diamond dealers have appeared in court in Tel Aviv accused of holding close to 100 million shekels ($21 million) at HSBC Switzerland that was not reported to the Israel Tax Authority authorities. The unnamed diamond dealers allegedly held undeclared accounts at the bank, the tax authority said on Thursday, Reuters reported. A Tel Aviv court later agreed to release them after posting bail. All four have denied the allegations.
Hong Kong Jewellery Magazine takes an in-depth look at the adjustments the diamond industry is, or should be, implementing in order to accommodate the changing economy and consumption habits in an environment where the diamond industry "at large is under the gloom of the stagnant economy that impedes buying sentiments in end consumers." With the assistance of three industry insiders - Erik Jens, head of the diamond and jewelry division at ABN AMRO Bank, Nissan Perla, founder of Olympic Diamond and the Diamond Registry, and Lawrence Ma, chairman of the Diamond Federation of Hong Kon
The Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) pledged to fight a decision by the First International Bank of Israel (FIBI) to tighten its lending standards for the trade. FIBI raised collateral requirements for diamond industry members, leading IDE President Yoram Dvash to write to bourse members, vowing to lobby state authorities and persuade the bank to reconsider the decision. Dvash claimed FIBI’s demands are stricter than those applicable to other sectors and alleged the move was influenced by “pressure” from Israel’s financial regulator, Rapaport reported.
Excelsior Capital Ventures (ECV) LLC is to provide "substantial liquidity" to the mid-stream diamond and jewelry industry. The New York based firm, founded by Nehal Modi, said it expects to begin lending operations on October 3 and will provide loans secured by diamond and precious metal inventories, according to a statement. Modi said, "We are in an environment where the diamond and jewelry industry is experiencing a significant contraction in lending. There is a dire need for new capital and greater liquidity in order to expand the companies and industry at large."
Israel's tax authority will be cracking down on unreported capital, after receiving a list from French authorities of more than 8,000 Israeli customers who held bank accounts at the Swiss arm of HSBC. Israeli newspapers reported that diamond company owners were on the list, along with bank owners and directors, real estate moguls, retired military officers, public and private company heads, well-known lawyers, artists, soccer players, sports agents, a retired judge and a former prosecutor.
We at ABN AMRO support initiatives that create more insight into the value chain, its key players, engages with the right side of the market and excludes areas which show less transparency or no willingness to learn and improve. We see other banks doing the same more and more. In the end there will only be credit lines available for companies with good corporate standards and track record, whether they are small or big doesn't matter ... We expect more consolidation and certain companies going out of business.
The 100-year-old Indian diamond house and one of the largest in the trade, Shrenuj & Co., has run into trouble as lenders tighten their grip on the group which has survived across four generations, reported The Economic Times last week. Banks - including Bank of India and ICICI - with a combined exposure of around $450 million, have obtained a court order to repossess the company's diamond inventory and restrict the promoters' travel.
Rapaport News' Avi Krawitz interviewed recently appointed president of the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) Tony Capuano, who discussed the health of the U.S. jewelry market, bank lending, Millennials and the JBT itself. Capuano noted the continuing trend toward consolidation and declining numbers of retailers in the U.S. jewelry market. "The industry continues to contract and consolidate. There are still 29,000 jewelry companies across the U.S., of which about 21,000 are retailers. Our data shows 700 retailers left the industry in the 12 months to the end of the first quarter.
Drawing a worrying analogy between the film The Big Short (2015) - which depicts how everyone took part in the ultimately disastrous play on U.S. subprime mortgages even though the fundamental truth was, or should have been, known to those familiar with the mortgage market - and the current trend in the diamond market, Ehud Arye Laniado issues a warning about ignoring the lessons learned as a result of the diamond downturn of 2015.
The privatization of Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa is planned for July, reports Reuters.
The vast majority of the diamond bankruptcies of late, however, have NOT been a result of business miscalculations, market downturns, or bad timing. They have all been planned, well-orchestrated moves to intentionally defraud other diamond industry stakeholders, particularly banks, of large sums of money. Many of these people - particularly in India - have been declared wilful defaulters by the banks and the authorities. And we’re all braced for many more.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA announced that it today (Thursday) repaid a $350 million bank loan to JSC Alfa-Bank which it received in May 2014. ALROSA paid back the bank loan with its own cash funds, thus reducing its debt on loans and borrowings to $2.7 billion. ALROSA has made it a priority in recent years to cut down its outstanding loans.
Financing and persuading banks to provide credit to the diamond trade, the lack of profitability for manufacturers, the critical need for generic marketing of diamonds and persuading Millennials to buy diamond jewelry, the damage caused by frequent changes to price lists, the threat from synthetic diamonds and deliberate overgrading, together with diamond sourcing protocols were the main issues debated at length at the World Diamond Congress in Dubai this week.
Uphold CEO Anthony Watson sheds light on how Financial Technology is finally transforming the legacy financial services industry and why it’s here to stay.
While the Internet has brought tremendous efficiencies to nearly every sector in the economy, the financial services industry remains relatively unimproved. Businesses today, in particular those in the diamond industry, are painfully aware of the lack of transparency, the lack of convenience and online functionality, the lack of interoperability between geographies, and the high fees charged by banks.
Barclays Bank Botswana is once again interested in financing rough purchases by local diamond cutting and polishing firms, according to a report by mmegi.bw. The report points out that many financers are reducing exposure to the diamond sector. Diamond manufacturers in Botswana bought $500 million of rough from Debswana, the De Beers-government joint venture, a 46% drop on the 2014 figures.
Royal Bank of Scotland is to close its banking operations in India in a bid to cut its losses after giving up on efforts to find a buyer due to fears about a lengthy regulatory approval process for a deal, the Financial Times reported. The article did not mention the effect on India's diamond industry as a result of the closedown. The bank has been steadily selling off non-core units of its Indian business in recent years, as part of a policy of withdrawal from the ill-fated global expansion that led to its bail out during the 2008 financial crisis.
VTB Capital, a retail branch of Russia’s second largest lender, VTB, plans to take part in the privatization of ALROSA shares as a global bookrunner, the main underwriter, according to a media report from Russia. The bookrunner usually teams up with other investment banks in order to lower its risk.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is allowing banks in the authorized dealer categories to widen credit periods beyond six months with immediate effect, the Gem and Jewelry Promotion Export Council (GJEPC) reports on its web site. "The decision has been taken in consultation with the government of India 'to ease the operational difficulties faced by the importers'." However, the RBI is demanding that several conditions be observed to ensure the expanded credit period is for genuine reasons.
Bloomberg News TV is broadcasting an interview with reporter Joe Deaux in which he explains to viewers of the financial news service the background to reports last week that Standard Chartered Bank has decided to require diamond company clients to provide extra security on its loans. Diamond manufacturers, particularly in India, will be the hardest hit by the decision by the bank to curb lending. Dwindling demand and a credit crunch have hit the industry hard, says Deaux, along with falling demand from China.