The Oppenheimer family has sold its 40 percent stake in De Beers to Anglo American for US$5.1 billion.
The sale increases Anglo American’s shareholding in the world’s leading diamond company from 45 percent to 85 percent – the remaining 15 percent is held by the government of Botswana.
Announcing its acquisition in an official statement, Anglo American said the company had a deep knowledge and understanding of De Beers as it had been the company’s largest shareholder since it became a private company in 2001 and was a longstanding shareholder prior to that.
“Anglo American is well positioned to enhance the value of De Beers through its expertise and scale in such areas as technical, supply chain and financial management functions as part of a simplified and more integrated ownership structure.”
Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll added that the transaction was a unique opportunity for Anglo American to consolidate control of De Beers.
“Today’s announcement marks our commitment to an industry with highly attractive long term supply and demand fundamentals,” she said.
“Underpinned by the security of supply offered by a new 10-year sales agreement with our partner, the Government of the Republic of Botswana, this forms a compelling proposition.
“De Beers’ management team has led the business successfully through the financial crisis and into a stable position and it is now well placed for the future, with improving performance throughout 2011.
“I believe that the benefits brought by Anglo American’s scale, technical, operational and exploration expertise and financial resources, combined with the unquestionable leadership of De Beers’ business and iconic brand will enable De Beers to enhance its position across the diamond pipeline and capture the potential presented by a rapidly evolving diamond market.”
Meanwhile Oppenheimer family spokesperson Nicky Oppenheimer said the family’s decision to sell its share of De Beers had been “momentous and difficult” as the family had been part of De Beers for over 80 years.
“After careful and deliberate consideration of the offer, and what is in the best interests of the family, we unanimously agreed to accept Anglo American’s offer,” he said.
“Anglo American is the natural home for our stake as they have been major shareholders in De Beers since 1926 and have a deep knowledge of the diamond business.”