The acquisition of the HRD Antwerp certificate lab has again been postponed. Parent company Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has extended the bidding procedure. According to well-informed sources, another major international player is expected to present itself in January. For the time being, there are three candidate acquirers: Israeli Sarine Technologies and former HRD directors Serge Couvreur and Peter Meeus. HRD Antwerp could get a new interim boss in the meantime.
HRD Antwerp has not experienced easy times for several years now, after a boom period in the first decade of this century. The company held several grounds for dismissal. Moreover, the entire diamond trade is currently facing more turbulent times all over the world. Less trade – with reductions of 30 to 40 percent – means that the lab also receives far fewer stones to certify, among other things on colour, purity and cut quality.
Last week, AWDC closed the bidding period. Some sources confirmed that no bids have been accepted, but that the procedure is being extended. AWDC refrains from commenting. It is unclear whether the extension is one of three or six months.
The postponement could indicate that AWDC is not so keen on a sale to one of the three known candidates and is therefore banking on a more ‘suitable’ acquirer. In order to keep HRD running, a new loan from AWDC may be needed.
For the staff, the future remains uncertain. At the beginning of this year, HRD employed some 95 people.