By Charles Wyndham.
Christmas does but come once a year, or looking at it another way every 365 days, though you would not have thought so given the manic publicity to spend money that seems to make the gestation period feel very much shorter, or worse, that there is more than one Christmas a year.
The DTC announcement of its list of sightholders has seemingly avoided some of the same fate as Christmas, as an underwhelming event engulfed in its synthetic and projected hype.
Anyway, the news came out this week. However, I am not sure how seriously I should take it.
The DTC media release refers to announcing a ‘provisional Sightholder list’.
I don’t know how an elephant would feel after 645 days of gestation which it must have felt like for all the sightholders leading up to this ‘birth’, if it was told that the result was only provisional and it better get started again.
But for once there were one or two surprises pulled out of the hat like some hapless comic invited to entertain some rebellious children whilst the parents recover from their state of bilious over indulgence which is the only rational way to survive this period of good will.
To learn that two of the largest Indian manufacturing companies had been removed from the list, was a surprise, but less of a surprise than to read that Rosy Blue was unsuccessful in getting a sight in Botswana.
It is not as if Rosy Blue has lost it sight but for all that, still, the news must have come as a nasty jolt, rather like my version of Christmas pud, to a company that has till now always been seen as one of the more, if not the most, favoured amongst the DTC club.
Somewhat bewilderingly, I learn that a company that as far as I was aware had virtually ceased to exist, well certainly had for a long time when there was about no more than a stray cat wandering around its factory in Botswana, is still named by some as a sightholder.
This game of who is or isn’t a sightholder is complicated by the fact the DTC itself has not printed a comprehensive list, its announcement merely states the number of sightholders (provisionally); so inevitably there are these wonderful games of Chinese whispers passed around.
One such whisper may actually contain the best surprise.
The DTC media release reminds us that “all applicants are required to confirm their adherence to the De Beers Best Practice Principles, ensuring that, like all companies within the De Beers Group, Sightholders are ‘living up to diamonds’ by adopting the highest ethical standards in their business practices.”
Well, the net result, if confirmed and not merely provisional, in the case of the news about Botswana sightholders is the most surprising and almost as eye catching as the short back and sides that Kim Jong-Un, the deified new leader of North Korea, sporting the most wonderful mullet.
Digressing, I am surprised that I have not come across someone pointing out that it is not the news that Kim Jong II may not have had his heart attack on a train somewhere up country, but rather pointed out the remarkable haircut of his podgy successor.
Anyway, the rumours are that there is a company, which has been given the blessing to do business in Botswana, obviously behind a local partner; but this particular sugar daddy actually went bust in Botswana in the 2008/2009 crash.
Going bust in this particular case was especially poignant as so much had been made about the fact it employed deaf people as cutters.
The exit was painfully messy and certainly did not and does not fit into the dictum quoted above from DTC about ‘living up to diamonds’ and certainly was not good for the deaf.
I won’t bother to go into one or two other bibs and bobs, suffice it to say if this behaviour equates to living up to diamonds, it must be the reverse of being in the gutter looking up at the stars.
One has to be careful to not immediately lay all, or even, some of the blame for this decision at the door of the DTC, as it is quite apparent that any such decisions about who is or is not a sightholder, directly or indirectly, in Botswana also in effect requires the support of Government... or being told by Government.
On the face of things, in this painfully politically correct world, it would appear that the Indians seem to have had a bit of a bummer result as compared to the chosen people.
But again, as an outsider maybe this is a signal of a change and not a change that the immediate facts would instinctively suggest to some.
Maybe this profile rubbish which is the cornerstone of the DTC decision making process, supposedly, is actually getting teeth.
That is teeth in the sense that there may be a greater attention on the actual funding or balance sheet of various companies.
The Indian Rope Trick on finance might be catching up with them from a DTC point of view, and this is not illogical, though it must raise some painful questions for the banks financing the Indian end of the trade.
What is not included in the DTC press release is what level of supply individual companies will receive.
My understanding is that there has been a radical shift, so the fact that a company has retained its sightholder status might disguise the fact that the volume with which any such company is going to be supplied has been substantially reduced, which of course means that some will be receiving much more.
All in all, I might go for second helpings of turkey and miss out on my Christmas pud.