Luxury jewellery retailer and miner Harry Winston Diamond Corp. is one of several potential buyers of BHP Billiton's Ekati diamond mine in the Canadian north, according to media reports Wednesday.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that Harry Winston and "groups led by KKR & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC" are positioning to buy Ekati for between $500 million and $750 million. Apollo, which has a market cap of $1.7 billion and trades on the NYSE, is said to be teaming up with Stornoway Diamond Corp. Chairman Eira Thomas to bid for the mine, Bloomberg said.
BHP announced last year it was getting out of the diamond business by putting its 80%-owned Ekati mine in Canada's Northwest Territories up for sale. Late last year BHP sold its majority stake in the Chidliak diamond exploration project, also in northern Canada, to partner Peregrine Diamonds.
Harry Winston has experience as both a diamond retailer and miner. It has a 40% interest in the Diavik mine, which it owns with partner Rio Tinto PLC.
The Globe and Mail reported a source with knowledge of the bidding process saying, "[Harry Winston] and others have continued to look at securing the diamond supply to their downstream business, and arguably they have done a better job. They are definitely kicking the tires."
In January investment firm Investec valued the mine at between $300 million and $500 million due to its limited remaining life and declining earnings.