Aber Mining, the minority partner in the Diavik diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories, has signed a nonbinding letter of intent to acquire part of famed retailer Harry Winston.
While an internal memo from Harry Winston chairman Ronald Winston indicated only that Aber would invest in Winston, Canadian press accounts portrayed it more as an outright acquisition. In the memo, Winston said the company was looking for an infusion of capital to implement its long-term strategic plan.
“Aber’s investment will take the form of additional new capital that will come into the business to fund [our] growth plan,” he said. “What this will mean for Harry Winston is that we will be opening new salons, introducing new product, and expanding the breadth and depth of our inventory at a more rapid pace without jeopardizing the rich history and tradition of our business.”
Winston said he would continue as chairman, whether or not the deal goes through.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the deal is the Tiffany connection. Tiffany owns 14.7% of Aber. So that would make Tiffany part owner of the owner of Harry Winston—corporate cousins, if not actual siblings.
Mark Aaron, vice president of investor relations for Tiffany, declined to speculate on what this would mean except to note that Tiffany’s deal with Aber gives it first dibs on “Tiffany-quality” rough.
Aber declined comment at press time, and Winston spokespeople declined comment beyond the chairman’s internal announcement.