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Petra Sees Sales Bump as De Beers Moves Diamond Center to Africa

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- Petra Diamonds Ltd. expects to draw more buyers of the precious gems, boosting prices as De Beers relocates its sales to Botswana from London.

“It will be good for us because it means more people,” Chief Executive Officer Johan Dippenaar said in an interview today. “The right goods in front of the right people. For South Africa and Southern Africa it’s 100 percent positive.”

De Beers, the biggest producer by value, said in 2011 that it agreed to move its diamond sales to Botswana by the end of 2013, ending a London arrangement that’s been in place since 1888. The move is part of a 10-year deal with Botswana ensuring De Beers’ continued access to diamonds from the country, which produces more of the gems by value than any other.

De Beers sells its diamonds at 10 events each year known as sights. The stones are sold at a price set by De Beers in black and yellow “sight boxes” to selected customers known as sightholders who must satisfy rules on financial standing, business reputation and marketing ability.

Petra sells its at seven tenders a year in Johannesburg, where it attracts 60 to 110 customers, Dippenaar said. The company is considering running its sales at a time that will allow buyers to combine their trips to Botswana’s capital Gaborone and Johannesburg.

“It will make sense. For the buyers it would be great to know if they could do it on the same trip,” he said. “Southern Africa will probably become the diamond trading center.”

De Beers, owned by Anglo American Plc, draws sightholders from the diamond centers of New York, Antwerp, Tel Aviv and Mumbai.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Biesheuvel in London at tbiesheuvel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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