Gem Trader HB Antwerp ends feud as Botswana weighs diamond sales deal

NAIROBI (Reuters) – HB Antwerp, a Belgian gem processor and trader, said that one of its founding members who was fired last month has been reinstated, amid a pending deal with Botswana for the supply of rough stones.

Oded Mansori was reinstated as managing partner and director and all four of the company’s founding partners have moved past “internal differences of the last several weeks”, HB Antwerp said in a statement issued late on Monday.

The three-year-old company said last month that it had removed Mansori following differences in strategy.

Botswana, the world’s No. 1 diamonds producer by value, has said it wants to buy a 24% stake in the company.

As part of the deal, which is yet to be signed, Botswana’s state-owned Okavango Diamond Company will supply HB Antwerp with an undisclosed quantity of rough stones for five years.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said last week that the government was assessing the pending pact with HB Antwerp following the internal ructions and after Canadian miner Lucara Diamond severed ties with the Belgian firm.

Lucara, which had a deal to sell rough stones of 10 carat and above to HB Antwerp, said that it had ended the partnership because of a “material breach in financial commitments” by the Belgian firm.

HB Antwerp has not commented publicly on Lucara’s decision.

(Reporting by Clara Denina and Felix Njini; Editing by Susan Fenton)