The International Gemological Institute (IGI) and industry veteran Peter Meeus have put in rival bids to acquire HRD Antwerp.
Meeus, HRD’s former managing director, last week submitted a proposal to buy at least 51% of the lab in partnership with two unnamed individuals, he told Rapaport News Wednesday. IGI also placed a bid for the lab in the past two or three months, sources said.
“Although HRD has phenomenally lost its market share, the brand awareness is still there, especially in the Middle East, and also in India and Asia,” said Meeus, who headed HRD from 1999 to 2005. “With the whole issue of synthetics, it is my strong belief that once the consumer starts to know about it, all natural diamonds will be sold with a certificate, so this business will grow. The ambition is to bring it back to where we were, and we think we have a formula for that, which will multiply or amplify the number of HRD certificates globally, with a focus on the East.”
Chinese conglomerate Fosun International acquired an 80% stake in IGI last year. IGI CEO Roland Lorie declined to comment, but confirmed that the company had signed a nondisclosure agreement.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre, which owns HRD, elected not to comment.