Goodbye London, Hello Gaborone: De Beers Sales Head To Africa

Fire sweeps boat on London Duck Tours; passengers leap into the Thames

The change will test Botswana’s ability to develop skills and services, lower an unemployment rate stuck at roughly 18 percent and diversify an economy still dependent on diamonds for more than 80 percent of exports. By separating sales from corporate headquarters, the move is also arguably the biggest challenge De Beers has faced to the way it does business since the current sales model was set up nearly a century ago to secure its then-dominant position. END OF AN ERA The shift south, long expected in one form or another, raises practical questions – visa difficulties, a lack of direct flights and suitable hotels – but has also sparked a debate around the future of De Beers and its role in the gem market. Still the world’s largest producer by value, De Beers was taken over by Anglo American in a deal completed last year which bought out the Oppenheimer family, cutting direct links to the dynasty that ran the firm for almost a century. “It is what you would call the end of an era, but it should not be seen as a negative, it should be seen as the natural progression of the industry,” Kieron Hodgson, an equity analyst at Charles Stanley in London. Others are less sanguine. “I don’t think any of them really want to be (in Gaborone), but they don’t have a choice as the diamonds are in the ground there,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Des Kilalea. “It is akin to saying we won’t have an London Metal Exchange, you’ll have to go to Chile to get your copper. It is blatantly inefficient – though in terms of politics and development, if I were president I’d do the same.” De Beers has already moved its diamond sorting and aggregation businesses – the operations that sift through the production from each mine and bring the gems together before they are allocated to buyers – to Gaborone. It has also been supporting cutting and polishing operations by making more diamonds available locally – encouraging international firms like Tannenbaum’s to grow there. The Leo Schachter group now employs some 300 people in Botswana. A TIGHT GRIP De Beers’ London sights date back to the 1930s, when it set up what became the Diamond Trading Company to control supply, secure demand and tighten its grip on the market in rough diamonds, of which it held some 80 percent at its peak in the 1980s and 90s.

London steals title of best city in the world from Paris

No one was seriously injured, and three people treated at a London hospital for “minor smoke inhalation ailments” have all been discharged, London Duck Tours said. Most of the people on board the boat were foreign tourists, ITV reported. The company and the London Fire Brigade both said the cause of the blaze, which damaged one third of the vessel, was so far unknown. River tours suspended Borough Cmdr. Alison Newcomb of London’s Metropolitan Police said that the maritime coast guard is investigating. “At the conclusion of that investigation, I anticipate they will make a decision with regards to future tours,” she told ITV. London Duck Tours said it has stopped operating tours on the river until the reason for the fire has been established. “Should technical or safety modifications be required to our fleet, these will be introduced prior to the service recommencing,” Duck Tours said, stressing that it “operates to the highest safety standards.” “London Duck Tours operates a fully modernized fleet of nine vehicles that have been completely rebuilt and refurbished between 2002 and 2012,” it said. “This includes new, purpose built hulls, new engines, computerized systems and steering equipment.” The company said it was fully cooperating with investigators and regulatory authorities. Previous problems Amphibious tour vehicles have run into trouble in the past. In June, a duck boat sank in the British city of Liverpool. Twenty-seven people were taken to the hospital for shock and exposure after that incident. It was the second time the Liverpool tour company, The Yellow Duckmarine, had had a problem with a vehicle — one of them sank in March without any passengers in it.

According to the latest edition of the Anholt-GfK City Brands Index which measures a citys brand image, power and appeal, Londons stock has gone up in the world as it took the top spot in the biennial ranking. Possible reasons could include the fact that the city continues to bask in the afterglow of a successful Summer Olympic Games and has maintained a presence in the international spotlight with a string of historic milestones that include the Queens Coronation ceremony and the highly anticipated birth of a new royal with the arrival of Prince George. London also took the top spot as the city where individual cultures are appreciated and where foreigners can “easily fit in.” The Aussie capital of Sydney, meanwhile, enjoys a stellar reputation around the world for being the safest and friendliest city. The City Brands index measures the value of a citys international reputation across six dimensions: its international status and standing; esthetic; a category called pre-requisites such as affordable accommodations and the standard of public amenities; people; pulse (interesting things to do) and its economic and educational potential. More than 5,140 interviews were conducted in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, the US and the UK for the index. And while Paris was able to take the top spot in the category of Pulse, where the city failed to crack the top 10 ranking was in categories such as Friendly People and Safety. This summer, in a bid to shed their longstanding image of being rude and surly, the citys chamber of commerce published an etiquette manual for Parisian restaurateurs, taxi drivers and sales staff on how to welcome international tourists. …despite its indisputable charm, the capital has work to do when it comes to welcoming visitors, the chamber admits. And earlier this year, high-profile muggings of Chinese tourists robbed of their passports, plane tickets and cash shortly after landing in Paris tarnished the citys image, as did footage broadcast worldwide of soccer-related riots which broke out not far from the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, other notable movements on the index include Tokyo, which suffered a 7-spot drop from tenth place in 2011 to 17th place in 2013. Amsterdam, meanwhile, shot up the ranks from 17th spot to 11th position this year. And while Rio de Janeiro was ranked the third friendliest city on the list, the city fell to the bottom of the heap when it comes to safety (47 out of 50) — a particular concern given it’s set to host the World Cup and the Summer Olympics, the report points out. Here are the top 10 best cities for 2013: 1.

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