No Reunion for De Beers and Argyle

Ending a wild fight that flipped back and forth almost as much as the U.S. presidential election, it appears that De Beers will not be the new owner of Australia’s Argyle mine.

In June, De Beers offered to pay AUS$522 million for Ashton Mining, the minority partner in the mine-the world’s largest producer of smaller stones. That was topped by an AUS$596 million offer from Rio Tinto, the mine’s majority partner, which De Beers in turn trumped with an AUS$745 million bid.

De Beers was ready to claim victory, but its bid stalled while awaiting approval from Belgian authorities, which get to rule on the offer because Argyle has a sales office there. The delay led major Ashton shareholder Malaysian Mining to sell its shares to Rio Tinto, even though its bid was lower.

That appears to have ended De Beers’ prospects for now. In a statement, De Beers acknowledged that its latest offer “is likely to be unsuccessful.”

De Beers’ bowing out will likely be greeted with relief by some Indian manufacturers who bought from Argyle and who worried about De Beers increasing its control over the small stone sector.