Saturday, July 10, 2004
The settlement of the criminal case will go a long way toward advancing the company's plan to expand into new markets, although a diamond industry executive said that the company had no immediate plans to change its level of business in the United States.
Three years ago, it signed a joint venture with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French luxury retailer, to open retail operations and market luxury diamonds around the world. As the company has steadily lost market share in the world market for rough diamonds, it has moved more aggressively into the marketing and retailing of polished stones.
The United States is the biggest single market in the world's $60 billion retail diamond business, and the indictment of De Beers was the last remaining obstacle preventing the company from doing business directly here. Executives have long risked arrest because of the case and have generally avoided visits.
In recent years, the company has survived a series of challenges and upheavals. In the late 1990's, De Beers managed to shrug off accusations that it had dealt in so-called blood diamonds - illicit stones used to finance African conflicts - and instead ended up leading a campaign to choke off the supply of tainted diamonds into the world's $8 billion rough diamond market. De Beers controls about two-thirds of the market in uncut diamonds.
Thank goodness they'll be back in play in the US. I am sure they will no longer use their monopolish standing to make way too much money on rocks that are not nearly as precious as they make the world believe.
Read Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell. Very good book.