De Beers vs. The Bear Market: Who Will Win?

The rough-diamond world order has virtually crumbled in the past three years. Journalists have expended thousands of pessimistic words speculating how De Beers will try to reassemble it while the industry grapples with low profits and uncertainty about the future. Nicholas Oppenheimer, vice chairman of De Beers, acknowledges these are "interesting times" in the Chinese curse sense. But he says De Beers is resourceful and adaptable enough to deal with them. Oppenheimer and his executive team have their work cut out for them this year. Sales contracts with all the diamond producers in De Beers' network are due shortly. At issue are contracts with Botswana (17 million carats annually), Russia (9 million), Argyle (40 million) as well as smaller operations; together they comprise more than three-quarters of the world's rough diamond production. The nature of these five-year contracts - al

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