Oppenheimer says De Beers status in the U.S. probably won’t change

De Beers Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer said on Sunday he did not expect to resolve the firm’s long-running dispute with the U.S. competition authorities if a multi-billion dollar bid lead to the diamond giant’s delisting, Reuters reported.

A consortium led by mining giant Anglo American and Oppenheimer’s family agreed to buy De Beers last week in a deal valuing it at $17.6 billion. If approved, De Beers will delist from Johannesburg’s bourse and become a private company.

”I don’t think it (the delisting) will have any (affect with U.S. anti-trust officials),” Oppenheimer said in an interview broadcast on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘Newsmaker’ program.

U.S. anti-trust authorities have long viewed the firm as a predatory cartel and its executives cannot travel to the country without fear of arrest.

”De Beers has had a problem…with the anti-trust legislation from the 1940s. It’s something that we would like to resolve but it’s a problem that has been around for a very long time and it won’t be easy to resolve,” he said in the radio interview according to Reuters. “The delisting of De Beers…will make no difference in this regard.”

Oppenheimer said the offer valued De Beers’ shares at about 340 rand each (U.S. $43.70), which he said was a 70% premium after the share’s value averaged around 200 rand (U.S. $25.70) over the last year.

Some analysts have said that the offer should be higher.

Oppenheimer added that an anticipated capital injection into South Africa of around 23 billion rand (U.S. $2.9 billion) should flow into the country when the deal is approved, which he hoped would be in the middle of the year.

He also said that while the company would no longer be publicly listed, it planned to maintain a policy of transparency and would work hard to help stem the flow of so-called ”conflict” diamonds, which analysts say have fueled wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo.

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