De Beers Group announces changes
De Beers Group today announced three changes to its Executive Committee. Neil Ventura, currently Executive Vice-President, Auction Sales, will become Executive Vice-President, Strategy and Innovation.
Paul Rowley, currently Executive Vice-President, Global Sightholder Sales, will become Executive Vice-President, Diamond Trading. Alessandra Berridge, currently Lead Legal Counsel for M&A at Anglo American, will become Executive Vice-President, Commercial and Partnerships.
In his new role, Neil will leverage De Beers’ leading market insight and technologies to rapidly shepherd new ideas from concept to implementation. Neil joined De Beers in 1989 and was appointed Executive Vice-President, Auction Sales, in 2007. He pioneered the industry’s first successful physical spot sales of rough diamonds using online auctions – an innovation that has transformed the Auction Sales business – and has been a catalyst for change in selling and pricing practices across the industry. Neil has extensive experience in market-facing roles across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Paul’s expanded role will see him lead a newly consolidated diamond trading function encompassing Sightholder Sales and Auction Sales. Paul joined De Beers in 1983 as a trainee diamond sorter in the Rough Diamond Division. Between 1986 and 1987, he was seconded to Kimberley, before returning to London to take up a role in the Purchasing department. Paul was appointed Executive Director at the Diamond Trading Company in 2007, and became Executive Vice-President, Global Sightholder Sales, in 2014.
Alessandra will lead a new function focused on managing De Beers’ commercial ventures and partnerships, including the organisation’s joint ventures with the governments of Botswana and Namibia. In her current role, Alessandra leads the legal aspects of Anglo American’s portfolio restructuring and strategic transactions for De Beers. Alessandra was previously De Beers Group General Counsel from 2008 to 2013. Prior to that, she was a partner at law firm Webber Wentzel. Alessandra has extensive experience in M&A, disposals and other strategic transactions across a range of geographies.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Our sustained success as a business will require us to maximise the performance of our core activities, while seeking new opportunities and ensuring our partnerships deliver long-term, mutual success. With these changes to our Executive Committee, we continue to shape a successful future for De Beers and its partners.
“In his 10 years heading up Auction Sales, Neil has transformed the business by constantly innovating and iterating. He has built a culture that is open to new ideas and encourages our people to actively seek out new ways of doing things. I’m looking forward to Neil continuing to spread that spirit across De Beers.
“Paul has not only led our Global Sightholder Sales business through the highly successful transfer of its sales activities from London to Gaborone, but he has also navigated the business through a range of different industry conditions and continued to build an increasingly customer-centric focus for Sightholder Sales. I am confident he will bring the same expertise, insight and customer focus to his broader role.
“Alessandra has been involved in many De Beers projects, including successive negotiations of the Botswana and Namibia joint venture and sales arrangements, the arrangements with De Beers’ empowerment partner Ponahalo in South Africa, major disposals undertaken by De Beers and the establishment of De Beers' presence in the US. I know she will bring a wealth of experience to this new role and I very much look forward to the contributions she, Neil and Paul will make as they take up their new positions.” Each of the three appointments will be effective from 1 February 2018.
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Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices. Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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Moody’s Reaffirms African Trade Insurance’s A3 Rating & Revises Outlook to Positive
Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has affirmed the A3 insurance financial strength rating (IFSR) of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) for the fifth consecutive year and changed the outlook from stable to positive.
Moody’s noted that the change in outlook to positive reflects the strong growth in ATI’s membership base – that has resulted in improved portfolio diversification, strengthened capital adequacy, and the good profitability despite the challenging operating environment. In addition, ATI benefits from its preferred creditor status (PCS) amongst sovereign member states which protects it from the risk of default by member sovereigns through securing recoveries against claims paid on guarantees.
The strong membership and equity growth are some of the key considerations for the consistent reinstatement of ATI’s A/Stable rating by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating, over the years. Also supporting the rating affirmation are; consistent improvement in financial performance, commitment of its shareholders who continue to uphold the preferred creditor status, its high quality and conservative investment portfolio as well as strong relationships with a number of global reinsurers that provide significant risk-bearing capacity.
With the change in outlook to “positive”, ATI is now better placed to provide enhanced support to its member countries, attract additional shareholding and grow its portfolio. The positive outlook is an indication that if ATI continues to demonstrate its strong underwriting performance and ability to recover claims under the preferred creditor arrangements, among other factors, an upward pressure towards an upgrade may be generated. The Moody’s press release can be accessed from here
Commenting on the rating, Africa Trade Insurance Chief Executive Officer Manuel Moses said: “This positive revision is in line with our 2023 – 2027 strategic objectives in which we set to improve our rating outlook to positive in the first year, and achieve an upgrade of at least “AA”/Stable rating by both Moody’s and S&P within this Strategic Plan period. We aim to achieve this by doubling our exposures and increasing our capital to more than USD1 billion.”
ATI’s mandate is to provide trade-credit and political risk insurance, as well as other risk mitigation products to its member countries and related public and private sector actors. These insurance products not only directly encourage and facilitate foreign direct investment as well as local private sector investment in our member countries, but also contribute to intra- and extra-African trade.
About The African Trade Insurance Agency
ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. Since inception, ATI has supported US$78 billion worth of investments and trade into Africa. For over a decade, ATI has maintained an ‘A/Stable’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody’s, which has now been revised to A3/Positive.