Blackstone is ready to buy International Gemological Institute (IGI), the biggest independent diamond-grading company in the world, The Economic Times (ET) reports. The company is owned by China Fosun International, the Lorie family that founded the company, and various other small shareholders.
Citing people aware of the details of the deal, the newspaper reported that the transaction is likely to be finalised at an enterprise value of $500-550 million. IGI owes its lenders $150 million.
Blackstone, the world's largest private equity firm is likely to sign an agreement with Fosun and IGI's other shareholders by the end of this week, the report added.
IGI was established in 1975 and it grades diamonds on their quality and provides certifications based on its assessment.
IGI certifications are recognised around the world. Notably, India is the world's biggest cutting and polishing hub and accounts for 90 per cent of stones sold globally, primarily from Surat, Gujarat.
Given the situation around the Russia-Ukraine war, diamonds mined in Russia are likely to face G7 sanctions as Nato countries look to stifle Russia economically.
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IGI manages 20 laboratories around the world that grade and certifies finished jewellery, natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and other precious stones.
Moreover, IGI also operates 14 schools that train professionals for the diamond industry. India is one of the biggest markets for IGI.
Previously, in 2018, China's Fosun International had acquired an 80 per cent stake in IGI's business taking control from the founders, the Lorie family of Belgium.