33% of De Beers’ Goods Rejected

De Beers sortingGaborone: De Beers’ customers declined to buy about a third of the diamonds offered for sale this week by the world’s biggest producer, according to two people familiar with the process, reports Bloomberg.

The buyers, or sightholders, exercised the right granted by De Beers this month to defer purchasing about 25 percent of the stones on offer and rejected about another 10 percent, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Only about $300 million of the $450 million of diamonds were bought, the people said.

The latest sign of turmoil in the $80 billion diamond industry is another blow for Anglo American Plc, 85 percent owner of De Beers, as traders, cutters and polishers suffer from a squeeze on credit and weaker-than-expected demand for jewelery. Buyers in India, where almost 90 percent of stones are cut and polished, threatened to ban imports this month amid complaints about a supply glut.

Anglo has previously counted on diamond revenues to offset a collapse in the price of other metals and minerals it mines. Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani is seeking to cut jobs, sell mines and lower costs as investors fret about slowing Chinese growth and as prices for copper, iron ore, thermal coal and platinum trade in or close to bear markets.

Cutifani may be forced to cut the company’s dividend for the first time since 2009 according to analysts at Barclays Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Investec Ltd.

De Beers sells diamonds at prices it sets at invitation-only sights held 10 times a year at its offices in Botswana. Sightholders, who must meet criteria set by De Beers, are asked to declare how many diamonds they intend to buy at the start of the year and risk getting a lower future allocation should they reject too many stones.