By Brenton Cordeiro
LONDON Nov 21 Gemfields is to buy
luxury jeweller Faberge from one of the coloured gem miner's own
shareholders, in a deal valuing the maker of lavish Easter eggs
for Russia's last tsar at $142 million.
The all-share deal, if approved by minority investors, will
create an integrated company that mines coloured stones and uses
the Faberge brand to promote their use in jewellery.
A 170-year-old jeweller controlled by former BHP Billiton
boss Brian Gilbertson's Pallinghurst investment company, Faberge
was relaunched in 2009, with its first collection since 1917.
Bringing Faberge into the Gemfields fold is in line with the
miner's aim of emulating the diamond producer De Beers, which
has successfully promoted diamonds for decades, championing the
diamond engagement ring from London's Bond Street to China.
"We have the opportunity to acquire what is certainly I
believe, a brand with exceptional heritage ... having been the
brand that has provided jewellery to kings and queens, princes,
tsars and leaders of the world over many many years," Gemfields
Chief Executive Ian Harebottle said.
Gemfields will issue up to 214 million shares as
consideration for the deal, which will be paid to Faberge
shareholders in proportion to their holdings in Faberge.
Pallinghurst - which controls Gemfields alongside partners
in investor grouping Rox, and also controls Faberge - will own
49.3 percent of the combined group. Rox, which currently has a
combined 63 percent in Gemfields, will disband.
Independent shareholders will vote on the deal and the
necessary issue of shares by Gemfields next month.
Faberge, all but frozen during a decades-long fight over the
use of the name, currently sells its luxury jewellery through
five boutiques and retail concessions in Geneva, New York,
London and Hong Kong. It wants to open an average of two new
stores per annum over the next ten years.
The jeweller, founded by Gustav Faberge in 1842, is best
known for the success of the 50 jewelled eggs commissioned by
the Imperial Russian family from 1885 through to 1916.
The Russian Revolution brought a violent end to the House of
Faberge, when the Bolsheviks seized the workshops, closed down
all production and the family fled.
After changing hands on two further instances, Faberge Inc
was purchased by Unilever Plc for $1.55 billion in
1989. In 2007, Pallinghurst acquired a portfolio of Faberge
trademarks, licences and associated rights from Unilever and
reunited the name with the Faberge family.
Faberge reported revenue of $6.97 million for the year ended
Gemfields mainly mines emeralds through its Kagem mine in
Zambia, but also has interests in ruby and sapphire deposits.
The stock was down 5.1 percent at 37 pence at 1050 GMT.