FILE PHOTO: A truck drives amongst workings at the De Beers Voorspoed Diamond mine near Kroonstad, South Africa May 3, 2017. REUTERS/James Oatway/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG, June 6 (Reuters) – The Botswana government may raise its shareholding in global diamond miner De Beers, President Mokgweetsi Masisi told JCK News, after parent company Anglo American AAL.L said it plans to spin off or sell the business.

The government owns a 15% stake in De Beers and Botswana accounts for 70% of the company’s annual rough diamond supply.

Anglo outlined a radical review of its business including a sale or divestment of the diamond business to focus on copper, iron ore and a fertilizer project in the UK to fend off a takeover from bigger rival BHP Group BHP.AX .

Masisi told JCK in Las Vegas that Anglo’s sale of De Beers would be “the best thing” if it happens.

The government could raise its shareholding in De Beers “if it’s attractive to,” Masisi told the online diamond news channel. The president in May told CNBC Africa that government would defend its interests in the diamond miner.

Among the plans Anglo could consider is an initial public offering for the diamond business, Reuters reported on May 14, citing sources.

Like other luxury goods, diamond prices have been hammered by a slump in global demand. De Beers has been limiting supply and offering flexibility to contracted customers. In February, Anglo announced a $1.6 billion impairment charge on De Beers. Anglo acquired De Beers in 2011, buying the Oppenheimer family’s 40% stake for $5.1 billion.


Masisi told JCK News Botswana’s ideal partner in De Beers would be a long-term investor. The government will try to keep the “bad guys out” and wants investors whose vision is aligned with the government’s.

“One of the characteristics of a bad owner is someone who has impatient capital,” Masisi said. “This industry requires somebody who is in it for the long-haul, because it has its ups and downs.”

(Reporting by Felix Njini; Additional reporting by Clara Denina. Editing by Jane Merriman)