Botswana Seeks Larger Stake in De Beers Amid Anglo American's Planned Divestiture

Botswana is actively pursuing an increased stake in De Beers as Anglo American considers divesting its ownership in the diamond producer
Botswana Seeks Larger Stake in De Beers Amid Anglo American's Planned Divestiture

President Mokgweetsi Masisi confirmed these intentions on Monday during a political rally near Gaborone, according to Bloomberg.

"We are going to increase the shares that we have in De Beers," Masisi announced. He emphasized that the government would be pivotal in selecting a new investor to succeed Anglo American, prioritizing those who understand the diamond industry's cyclical nature.

Currently, Botswana holds a 15% stake in De Beers, which is the largest diamond miner globally by value. The country also contributes 70% of De Beers' annual rough diamond supply.

Anglo American recently disclosed plans to sell or spin off its 85% stake in De Beers, following an unsolicited takeover bid from BHP (ASX: BHP). Anglo American acquired its majority stake in 2011, purchasing the Oppenheimer family's 40% share for $5.1 billion.

De Beers plays a crucial role in Botswana’s economy. In January, the company committed $1 billion to extend the life of its flagship Jwaneng mine by transitioning to underground operations. This extension has been planned since 2010 and aims to sustain the productivity of Jwaneng, the world’s richest diamond mine by value.

Debswana, a joint venture between the Botswana government and De Beers, constitutes a significant part of the national GDP and is vital to De Beers, providing nearly half of the company’s annual diamond output.

In anticipation of its separation from Anglo American, De Beers is also phasing out its lab-grown diamond jewelry line, Lightbox, which was launched in 2018. The company will review the unit after selling off the current inventory, which is expected to take about a year.

De Beers aims for annual core profits of $1.5 billion by 2028. Despite only making $72 million last year, its historical profits have fluctuated between $500 million and $1.5 billion due to the diamond market's volatility.

As De Beers prepares to operate independently once more, Botswana remains its significant shareholder, alongside Anglo American’s stake acquired just 13 years ago.

Diamond World