May 18, 2001
Shareholders Accept $18.7 Billion Offer to Take De Beers Private
Shareholders of De Beers Consolidated Mines today approved the share price offered by a consortium that will take the company private. All that's necessary now to seal the deal is the approval of the High Court of South Africa, which will meet May 29. The company is expected to delisted from the South African stock exchange June 1, after more than a century there.
The consortium, called DBI Investments, consists of the Oppenheimer family, which will own 45% of De Beers; South African mining giant Anglo American, which will own 45%; and Debswana, the jointly owed mining venture of the government of Botswana and De Beers, which will own 10%.
Shareholders, 75% of whom had to approve the deal, at first balked at DBI Investments' offer. When the consortium upped its offer, the shareholders said yes. A full 94% of them approved the deal today.
"We are absolutely committed to De Beers remaining a South African company," says De Beers Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer, whose family will be a major stakeholder in the new private company. Oppenheimer's grandfather, Ernest, took over De Beers after it was founded by Cecil Rhodes.
"This is an early fulfillment of the strategic plan to create shareholder value and grow the value of De Beers' diamond business," says Gary Ralfe, managing director of De Beers.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue