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 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.
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.
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.
The Economic Times India reports Indian banks are tightening lending criteria to the industry, following massive defaults in the diamond and jewelry industry amounting to US$1.5 billion. For years, banks in India have been providing credit based on balance sheets, a move the report says is now backfiring. "Banks cannot lend based on balance sheet. One needs to understand the entire business of the clients and how they manage it with their suppliers and buyers,", Ramesh Ganesan, executive vice president, IndusInd Bank commented.
As reported by Vinod Kuriyan, veteran industry analyst Chaim Even-Zohar writes in his latest issue of the "Diamond Intelligence Briefing" that Belgium's KBC Bank purposefully dismantled the Antwerp Diamond Bank in order to protect its secret history of corruption, money laundering and offshore accounts from prosecutors and U.S. banking regulators.
Mizrahi Tefahot, a Tel Aviv-based bank, raised its lending to the Israel diamond industry by approx. 25% in the past year, CEO Eldad Fresher told Rapaport News. “About a year ago, we decided to grow our presence in the diamond industry in Israel,” he said. “We expanded our credit lines and took on new clients because we believe in this sector.” Fresher was speaking at a joint session of the WFDB and the IDMA at the Presidents Meeting in Tel Aviv.
Excerpts from a Rapaport interview with Davy Blommaert, former business developer at Antwerp Diamond Bank and currently head of the diamond lending segment of the National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The bank intends to enter into diamond lending in the hopes that a perceived "geological shift" in the diamond trade will lead to more diamond business coming to Dubai, but there are caveats.
The diamond market is slowly becoming more disciplined. With high rough prices, declining polished, less available credit and lower retail inventory levels, it has become increasingly difficult for diamantaires to turn a profit. Therefore, they need to carefully navigate the significant changes taking place to improve their position in the market.
Finance and liquidity was one of the most hotly debated issues at the Dubai Diamond Conference 2015. The Dubai Diamond Exchange is consequently planning to hold three seminars on diamond financing this year, underscoring the growing importance of the issue for the global diamond industry.
The "dry facts" of 2014, indicating an increase of close to one percent in export, do not tell the true story of the year. Its most prominent feature was fluctuation in the prices of both rough and polished diamonds.
The World Bank claims that 2014 marked a turning point in the global economy, and it is forecasting world growth of up to 4% in 2015, compared with 3.4% in 2014 and 2.4% in 2013 - an increase that will directly impact on the consumption of luxury goods, in general, and diamond jewelry, in particular.
National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) said it would step in and meet the funding needs of diamond manufacturers and traders after the Antwerp Diamond Bank (ADB), once a leader in its field, closed its global operations last year. NBF’s move to create a specialised team to fund diamond cutters, polishers and traders comes as Dubai vies with Antwerp, Belgium, to become the world’s biggest diamond hub.