Diamonds / Industry

Botswana Earmarks $65 Million to Buy 24% of HB Antwerp


Botswana’s budget for the coming fiscal year includes money for its long-planned purchase of 24% of diamond company HB Antwerp, a deal that could involve HB buying the biggest diamonds from Botswana’s state-owned Okavango Diamond Company.

The budget sets aside 890 million pula, or $65 million, for the Botswana’s government’s share of HB Antwerp. According to Reuters’ calculations, that values the 4-year-old company at $275 million. Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi announced last March that his government would buy 24% of the company, but this is the first time that it’s named a price.

Until recently, HB had an agreement to buy big stones from mining company Lucara. HB’s proposed deal with the Botswana government calls for the company to buy the biggest diamonds from Okavango, under terms similar to those HB used for Lucara, where the miner got a cut from the final polished stone.

Lucara canceled that arrangement with HB last September, at a time when HB’s founders were feuding. Although Masisi subsequently said the government had not completed its agreement with HB, in November he said that “due diligence is now ongoing to finalize the deal.”

The Botswana Ministry of Finance and HB Antwerp did not return requests for comment.

Top: Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi, with first lady Neo Masisi, touring an HB facility last year (photo courtesy of the government of Botswana)

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By: Rob Bates

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