De Beers said Wednesday that a “preliminary approval order” has been issued, to settle the majority of civil class action suits filed against the mining giant in the United States. This settlement does not involve any admission of liability on the part of De Beers and will bring an end to a number of outstanding disputes.
“We believe that settling these suits is the most sensible and responsible course of action for the company to take. It is consistent with the other steps we have taken in both the U.S. and Europe to restructure and modernize both our operations and business model, and is in the best interests of De Beers’ partners and stakeholders in southern Africa and elsewhere in the world,” said Gary Ralfe, De Beers managing director, in a statement.
“With this settlement behind us, De Beers can now focus greater attention and resources on being a leader in all of our markets and playing a leading role to address humanitarian issues such as the fight against HIV/AIDS. We will continue to work on these issues in consultation with the international community,” he added.
The settlement is subject to final approval by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. De Beers said it hopes that the settlement will be approved during 2006.
De Beers said it believes that a successful conclusion to these suits “will allow the company to more effectively pursue its global interests by removing the cost, risk, reputational impact and distraction from the company’s core activities required to defend multiple class actions and possible further litigation.”
De Beers refused to comment or speculate on the approval process itself, or the issues under consideration by the court.