ABN Amro will implement changes to its guidelines for lending to the diamond industry in 2020, reasoning that the trade has become more efficient and now requires less credit.
The midstream’s reliance on working capital funding should have diminished given it has streamlined its production and sales processes, a spokesperson said in an email to Rapaport News. That new-found efficiency has resulted from technological advancements, a rising importance of labelled goods and an evolution of marketing channels, the spokesperson explained.
Despite this, “we have unfortunately not yet seen reduction in the typical trade credit terms,” she added, explaining the bank’s decision to change its credit policy.
The lender will reduce its financing from 70% to 65% of the total value of rough purchases, effective from March 1, the bank said in a letter to customers seen by Rapaport News. It has also cut the credit repayment period from 30 to 15 days, while giving clients the option to request an extension of up to 10 days in the event their rough has not been sold in full.
The bank said it may also require additional collateral, such as a property mortgage, against each credit line. Furthermore, clients will be required to provide monthly financial information about their sales and purchases — as well as an inventory of rough and polished, a list of trade receivables and payables, and details on bank positions — to maintain their credit. This information should be disclosed within three weeks after each month end, effective from the beginning of 2020, according to the letter.
In its latest earnings report, published November 13, ABN Amro listed diamonds and the energy sector as the largest contributors to the impairments it incurred during the third quarter. This comes despite earlier measures to reduce its exposure to the industry. The group closed its US and Dubai branches in 2018 before announcing changes to its lending policy in July this year, whereby it would only offer credit if the buyer can make money from the rough.
The bank expects its latest measures to have a long-term benefit for the industry, with the hope that the trade will reduce its inventory and reliance on credit.
“The midstream unfortunately continues to play ultimate inventory holder and financier within the entire supply chain, which we believe is not beneficial as [the] main focus should be the value-add by converting the rough into polished diamonds and diamond set jewelry,” the bank stressed.