Argyle still to shine on own

THE six-month takeover saga involving Argyle Diamonds, Ashton Mining, Rio Tinto, DeBeers and the Malaysian Mining Company has come to an end.

Rio Tinto has officially taken control of Ashton after winning the takeover battle for its Argyle Diamond mine partner against DeBeers.

The Malaysian Mining Company had owned 49.9 per cent of Ashton Mining and decided to sell because its new shareholders wanted to move into infrastructure assets.

DeBeers had been courting MMC for years, trying to get a piece of the Argyle Diamond mine action.

In 1996 Argyle Diamonds split away from the DeBeers controlled Central Selling Organisation.

Ashton Mining former general manager marketing Jurgen Rohwedder said Argyle Diamonds had long been considered low quality because they were small and not an ideal colour.

“The Indians learnt to polish and set them and over the past three years prices for Argyle diamonds have risen nearly 50 per cent,” Mr Rohwedder said.

“This year has been a very strong diamond market.”

Argyle holds a large share of the US diamond jewellery market.

DeBeers final bid of $2.28 a share nearly trumped Rio’s offer of $1.85 but Foreign Investment Review Board investigations held up the takeover process. Had the case been ongoing, the FIRB investigation would still have three months to run.

In the end Rio came back with a final successful bid of $2.20 a share.

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