• Varda Shine steps down as DTC Botswana Chairperson
• Paul Rowley to succeed Varda Shine as Executive Vice president
HAD A REMARKABLE CAREER: Varda Shine
The De Beers Group of Companies this week announced that Varda Shine, Executive Vice President of Global Sightholder Sales, will be leaving the organisation at the end of January 2014. Paul Rowley, Senior Vice President of Midstream Operations for Global Sightholder Sales, will succeed Shine as Executive Vice President following a comprehensive handover.
Shine managed the relocation from the United Kingdom to Botswana and was at the forefront or ensuring that all that is needed to ensure a smooth transition is in place. Observers indicate that some of the senior De Beers staff have opted not to relocate to Botswana and Shine may have decided not to relocate as well.
In July this year, De Beers appointed Nigel Simson as its senior vice president of Global Sightholder Sales. Simson replaced Mahiar Borhanjoo, who had decided not to relocate to Botswana as part of the sales division’s move from London.
Simson was head of beneficiation at De Beers, interacting with Sightholders in producer countries. He previously served as Head of Sales at De Beers in South Africa for four years and as a key account manager at the company for nine years.
De Beers is relocating its aggregation and sorting activities to Gaborone and will complete the transfer of its Sightholder sales there so that the so-called London sight will be launched in Gaborone in November. As part of the move, De Beers gave its London-based employees the option to move to Gaborone based on three- or five-year contracts. There is no denying that some of the employees chose to remain in London instead of relocating to Gaborone.
According to De Beers, Shine will also step down as Chairperson of the DTC Botswana board and Deputy Chairperson of the Namibia DTC board with successors to be announced in due course. Paul Rowley brings a wealth of experience to the role, having joined De Beers in 1983 and filled a variety of senior positions in the organisation.
He has served on both the DTC Botswana and Namibia DTC boards and was Acting CEO of DTC Botswana prior to his current role. His earlier experience also includes key account management, rough diamond purchasing in various African diamond producing countries and heading the Global Sightholder Sales Diamond Division.
Philippe Mellier, CEO of the De Beers Group of Companies, said: “Varda’s contribution to De Beers has been immense over three decades with the business and I would like to thank her wholeheartedly for her tireless commitment to the success of De Beers, its partners and the wider diamond industry. I am delighted to have a successor with Paul’s expertise in diamonds and experience in Africa to take Global Sightholder Sales forward – he will provide excellent continuity of leadership as the business settles in its new home”.
Varda Shine said: “I am very proud of all I have achieved with De Beers, both on the commercial side as well as establishing beneficiation at the heart of the organisation. I have really enjoyed working with our Sightholders over the years, witnessing their businesses transform, and with our government partners in the establishment of the DTC Botswana and Namibia DTC joint ventures and in managing the relocation of the Global Sightholder Sales operations from the UK to Botswana. I believe that De Beers has a very bright future in southern Africa and Paul has all the right ingredients to take the business on to further success”.
For his part, Paul Rowley said: “I am very excited to take up this new role. I have been fortunate enough to have worked all over southern Africa, forming strong relationships with our government partners, and to have built up decades of experience with rough diamonds. It will be a privilege to work more closely with our Sightholders, who are among the world’s leading diamantaires, and I look forward to starting a new chapter for Global Sightholder Sales in Botswana.”
Observers say it was bound to happen that some of DTC London’s top executives will not take the option of relocating to Botswana because of many factors, some of which could be social, personal or economic.
The 2011 decision to relocate De Beers aggregation to Gaborone - which cost over $120 million, including top class infrastructure in Gaborone - follows years of negotiations between Anglo-American-owned De Beers and Botswana, the largest producer of gem diamonds and home to mines like Jwaneng, the world’s richest.
The agreement secured a new 10-year contract for the sorting, valuing and sales of diamonds from the Botswana mines run by Debswana, a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government - the longest sales contract agreed to date between the two sides.
Available statistics indicate that the agreement will shift more than $6 billion of annual rough diamond sales from an international financial centre to Gaborone to keep value and profits from the raw materials here at home.
Botswana hopes to develop skills and services, create employment and diversify the economy which is heavily dependent on diamonds.