Friday, November 4, 2011
Anglo American PLC has negotiated a price of US$5.1 billion to buy 40% of diamond giant De Beers from the Oppenheimer family. Anglo’s stake will jump from 45% to either 75% or 85%; the Botswanan government has an option to increase its own stake.
“This has been a momentous and difficult decision as my family has been in the diamond industry for more than 100 years and part of De Beers for over 80 years,” said De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer. The Oppenheimers are selling their entire remaining stake in the company they took over in the 1920s. They retain 2% of Anglo, founded in 1917 by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. Until Nicky’s resignation this year Anglo’s board has always featured an Oppenheimer.
As-of June De Beers assets totalled US$8.2 billion with US$1.2 billion pre-tax profit over the prior six months, compared to a US$863 million pre-tax profit last year. The firm owns two Canadian mines and one in South Africa, along with joint ownership with Botswana in two of the world’s biggest diamond mines.
Part of the sale deal promises the Oppenheimers will be given part of any value increase if the firm is floated within two years. Nonetheless, Anglo CEO Cynthia Carroll denied this means a flotation is planned. She also said there is no connection between the purchase, which is set to be finalised next year, and Chilean state-owned copper firm Coldeco’s recent major purchase of 49% of various Anglo property. The Oppenheimers receive 20% of any price increase if a float occurs within a year, and 10% if one happens the year after.