Former HRD Antwerp chief Peter Meeus has made a second offer to buy the Belgian laboratory, after its owners rejected his initial proposal.
“I’m going straight to the Hoveniersstraat 22 to [deposit] my new bid,” Meeus said Tuesday in a presentation to the Antwerp trade, referring to the address of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). “It’s a binding bid subject to due diligence.”
The AWDC, which controls the Belgian laboratory, turned down all three bids it received at the end of last year, according to Meeus, who claimed his offer was the highest and believes he is now the only contender. Sarine Technologies and former HRD general manager Serge Couvreur, the other two bidders, declined to comment.
Meeus, who was HRD’s managing director from 1999 to 2005, presented his plans Tuesday in a speech at the city’s Hylitt Hotel, entitled “Why I Want to Buy a Stake in HRD Antwerp and What It Can Mean for Antwerp.” He wishes to expand the laboratory’s global visibility, and argued that having the Antwerp name present in retail stores around the world would support demand for polished goods from the historic Belgian diamond city.
“I’m doing this not only because I believe we will make money, but also because it’s good for Antwerp…and will create jobs in Antwerp,” said Meeus, who is seeking a 51% stake. “The interest of Antwerp’s trade is that the name Antwerp will be lying in every shop in India, China and the Middle East.”
HRD’s share of the global grading-report market has slumped to less than 0.5%, while its employee count has dropped to 70 now from 240 when he left the business in 2006, Meeus claimed. He also pointed to financial difficulties the laboratory had suffered.
However, there is uncertainty over whether HRD is still up for sale, as the company is in transition following the arrival of Ellen Joncheere as its CEO last month.
Joncheere “has been tasked with undertaking a thorough examination of the health of HRD Antwerp and prescribing a course of action,” an AWDC spokesperson told Rapaport News.
Image: HRD Antwerp grading equipment. (HRD Antwerp)