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Mining company 'happy' with Oppenheimer family relationship

By Rashmi Kumar

Anglo American, which is the majority owner of family-controlled diamond company De Beers, is “extremely happy” with its relationship with the Oppenheimer family, despite a report to the contrary.

An article in British newspaper the Guardian said the mining company, which already owns 45% of Johannesburg-based De Beers, is being “urged” by its investors to acquire the Oppenheimer family’s 40% stake.

But a spokeswoman for Anglo American denied the speculations. “The Oppenheimer family and Anglo American have a very strong relationship, which has been built over time since 1916. We are extremely happy with the current status,” she told CampdenFB.

According to the newspaper report, investors feel their “stake is undervalued” as De Beers is a private company, making it difficult to evaluate the worth of its holding.

A shareholder quoted in the Guardian said: “Anglo doesn’t get full credit for its De Beers holding. Buying out the family would be a neat solution.”

When contacted, a spokesman for De Beers told CampdenFB that the family was "under no pressure" to dilute its stake. "We have always said that we are committed to our investment in De Beers. That hasn’t changed," he added.

The world’s biggest diamond company, which had revenues of $5.8 billion (€4.3 billion) in 2010, is currently chaired by third-generation Nicky Oppenheimer. The family, worth an estimated €3.4 billion according to the Sunday Times rich list, has run the business since 1927.

Oppenheimer’s son Jonathan is also a member of De Beers’ board.

The group was founded in 1888 by Cecil Rhodes as a company renting out water pumps to miners. The first Oppenheimer family member, Ernest, took over as chairman of the business in the 1920s.

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