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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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Others like the media and analysts preferred to hedge their bets. “It’s a surprise, he’s from such a different background,” Des Kilalea, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, is reported to have commented. “People might have expected to have somebody from within De Beers or Anglo, somebody with knowledge of diamonds. It’s either going to be inspired or it’s not going to work.”

Elucidating the company’s perspective, Rajiv Bhandari, Managing Director, De Beers India said, “Philippe is a proven leader with the right experience for De Beers. He has spent his career leading large complex organisations delivering major projects, working both with partners and clients and understanding the changing needs of consumers. After having led the successful transformation of the diamond industry over the last decade, this appointment signals De Beers’ determination to lead in a rapidly changing world.”

That there are for the new CEO is a given. He must go through a rapid learning course on the new industry – with all its complexities – he finds himself in. But more importantly, the company he steps into has had a tumultuous journey in recent years, as a result of both external and internal factors.

Since the turn of the millennium, the world as we once knew it is a changed place. The most significant factors for De Beers were: the growing aspirations of countries and companies to maximize the value of their own resources and productions; the consolidation of the European Union with all that it implied; and the recent financial crisis.

Argyle had broken off from the single channel marketing system in the 1990s; the cry for beneficiation which went up in Africa, Canada and Russia was just a symbol of their determination to procure maximum value for their resources. BHP, for example began marketing its own production independently from the word go.

On the other hand, De Beers’ contract with Alrosa came under fire from the EU, on the basis of its anti-trust laws. After a tedious battle, De Beers had to give an undertaking to the EU that it would drastically reduce its intake from Alrosa by 2009.

Internally, some of the older mines like Jwaneng in Botswana and Venetia in South Africa are approaching the end of their lifespan – though there are plans to go underground in both, thus extending their life. Several others like Cullinan, Finsch, Jagersfontein and Namaqualand have been, or are, in the process of being shed off.

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