CITY WHISPERS: Boss Cook-ing up a big sparkler to woo De Beers buyers


De Beers boss Al Cook is in for one of the most high-pressure weeks of his working life.

The diamond group is owned by Anglo American – whose chief Duncan Wanblad is busy fending off takeover bids from rival miner BHP. 

To appease investors, Wanblad has said De Beers will either be sold or spun off if Anglo stays independent.

Diamond geezer: De Beers boss Al Cook is expected to plough ahead with unveiling a turnaround plan

Diamond geezer: De Beers boss Al Cook is expected to plough ahead with unveiling a turnaround plan

With that hanging over his head, Whispers understands that Cook will plough ahead with unveiling a turnaround plan on Thursday. 

Expect more detail on job cuts, information on where it will slash costs and what its plans are for the lab-grown diamond division Lightbox.

A key question is how De Beers plans to make natural diamonds seem more alluring to those looking for cheaper lab-grown rocks and are put off by the scandals that have dogged the mining industry.

In any event, Cook will need at least one big sparkler to woo potential buyers.

Wanblad taking aim at Woodsmith fertiliser mine 

Speaking of Anglo, Wanblad has also taken aim at the Woodsmith fertiliser mine in North Yorkshire. 

Woodsmith will stay part of the company but funding has been cut, which could lead to job losses and a slowdown in construction. 

But the local tourism industry might find a silver lining – as many hotels and bed and breakfasts in Whitby and Scarborough have been block-booked by Anglo for its staff. 

Summer by the seaside, anyone? 

BT boss ‘loves to squeeze short-sellers’

BT boss Allison Kirkby grabbed the chance to say that she ‘loves to squeeze short-sellers’ after the company’s share price jumped.

The market celebrated her new strategy and a rise in the dividend – hurting hedge funds that had built up a £300 million bet that BT’s shares would drop.

A rise in short-selling can be an indication that trouble is brewing at a company. Ocado has seen the number of its shares on loan to short-sellers balloon to 7.6 per cent, or £227 million.

But hedgies were famously burned in 2013 and 2017, when the online retailer had huge bets against it but saw business boom.

Will history repeat itself?

Who’s behind Project Giving Back foundation? 

At tomorrow’s glitzy RHS Chelsea Flower Show charity gala preview, the well-dressed guests will again be playing the ‘who-are-the-philanthropic-couple?’ guessing game.

The mystery pair are behind the Project Giving Back foundation, which is sponsoring 15 gardens at the show. Grants range from £70,000 to £500,000.

Only the bare facts are known about the generous twosome, spreading curiosity and speculation like weeds. They are both keen gardeners who became involved in 2022 after Covid disrupted the show.

Their funding is the gift that keeps on giving. After the show, the gardens will be moved to hospitals and schools, spreading some of the Chelsea vibe beyond London SW3.





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