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De Beers Stepping into a New Era
The move represents only one amongst the many changes which De Beers has undergone in the last decade.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jul 18 2011 12:42PM
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Reference: 6161  

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What according to you does this augur? Does it spell the beginning of a new era for the company?
It is said that the average life expectancy of a multinational corporation – Fortune 500 or its equivalent – is between 40 and 50 years. About one-third of the companies listed in the 1970 Fortune 500, for instance, had vanished by 1983 having been acquired, merged, or broken to pieces.

De Beers has been around since 1888, if not earlier. It is almost 125 years old. That is exceptional. It almost defies imagination, and it also probably means that the time may have come for the company to re-invent itself, to have the chance to live on for another century, even after its mines have run out of diamonds.

The appointment may well offer the beginning of a new era. We simply don’t know yet, though it is a logical explanation. Nicky Oppenheimer has always been very proud and aware of the legacy his grandfather and father have left behind. I’m sure he is also thinking about the legacy for his son Jonathan.

In terms of strategy, in which direction do you think the company is headed? Will we see a change in or a moving away from the SOC era? Will we see an attempt to increase its mining exposure/control of more rough?
The Supplier of Choice (SoC) is nothing more than just another marketing mechanism. It is not a given template but rather an evolving mechanism. It failed De Beers during the crisis when it was unable to induce its loyal clients to buy rough and, consequently, De Beers was forced to reduce production and sales by some 50 per cent. Producers’ marketing systems are always tested in adverse times – in good days it is not difficult to sell rough.

I do fully expect that the current system is not likely to go beyond the next contract period, and more of De Beers’ goods will be marketed through auctions or other models.

De Beers will not make “sacrifices” in order to maintain anything like the Godfather or even a market leader. De Beers will simply adopt the necessary systems and marketing mechanisms to allow itself to optimise revenues – and frankly, it should.

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