LONDON — Three’s a charm — an emerald charm. Gemfields plc, the mining and marketing company that specializes inemeralds and colored gemstones, has become the third miner to link upwith a luxury retail jewelry brand in the past month. On Wednesday, the publicly listed Gemfields announced it was buying100 percent of the London-based Fabergé in a deal that values the latterat $142 million. RELATED STORY: Gemfields Making U.S. Push >> In a joint statement with Fabergé, Gemfields said the jeweler wouldprovide the miner with direct control over “a high-end luxury goodsplatform” and a global brand with an exceptional heritage.“Theproposed acquisition of Fabergé further enhances our potential to berecognized as the leading colored gemstone company,” said IanHarebottle, Gemfields’ chief executive officer.“It provides exposureto the two most profitable segments in the gemstones value chain,namely mining and consumer sales. Fabergé is a globally recognized brandwith a unique heritage, a history of excellence and a commitment tocolored gemstone products, sales and marketing,” he added. According to the statement, the deal consolidates the Gemfieldsbrand as The Coloured Gemstone Co. It also “creates a platform toincrease the company’s market share within the colored gemstone sector,while gaining exposure to luxury sector multiples and greater influenceover product positioning and consumer awareness.” Gemfields will continue to sell its rough colored gemstoneproduction through its established auction platform. The acquisition,which will be paid for in Gemfields shares, is set to be approved byshareholders at the company’s annual meeting next month. Gemfields has been on an expansion streak: The London-based companythat specializes in Zambian emeralds and colored gemstones is amping upits U.S. presence through a series of initiatives. It has a new office in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, plans tobuild an American division and will have a revamped Web site launchingin January. In the pipeline is its first official U.S. ad campaign and aslew of high-end designer collaborations. The firm, which provides about 20 percent of the world’s emeraldsupply, wants to establish itself as an ethical, fashion-forward luxurybrand. It’s not the first marriage of mining and luxury the market has seenrecently: Over the past month, Harry Winston purchased the EkatiDiamond Mine and Diamonds Marketing Operations from BHP Billiton, andseparately, a subsidiary of Tiffany & Co. has extended a $6 millionterm loan to DiamondCorp plc, the South African diamond development andexploration company.As part of the loan agreement, Tiffany’ssubsidiary will have the right to purchase production from DiamondCorp’sLace Mine in South Africa. Gemfields purchased Fabergé from Pallinghurst Resources and otherinvestors who were operating through a holding company called Rox Ltd.Pallinghurst, which purchased the Fabergé trademarks and licenses fromUnilever in 2007, has spearheaded Fabergé’s revival and its ambitions toposition itself alongside the great heritage brands of the fine jewelryworld such as Cartier, Harry Winston and Tiffany. Gemfields and Pallinghurst are two companies that know each otherwell: One of the executive directors of Gemfields is Sean Gilbertson,the son of Pallinghurst founder and chairman Brian Gilbertson. Until now, Pallinghurst and one of its subsidiaries held a majoritystake in Gemfields through Rox Ltd., but Rox will be dismantled as aresult of the Fabergé takeover, with shares handed back to its variousinvestors. When the deal is finalized, Pallinghurst will becomeGemfields’ shareholder of reference, with just less than half theshares. Fabergé has boutiques and retail concessions in Geneva, New York, London in Mayfair and Harrods in Knightsbridge, and Hong Kong. According to the statement on Wednesday, Fabergé is set for growth,with revenues rising 367 percent in the financial year to March 31,2012. In the fiscal year to June 30, 2012, Gemfields’ revenues were up108 percent to $83.7 million with profit before tax and exceptionalitems up 140 percent to $47.8 million. According to the statement, Fabergé is aiming to open an average oftwo stores per annum over the next 10 years, with an aim of 71 stores by2033. Fabergé is targeting $6.5 million of annual sales in the mediumterm for each store added.
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