Aber appoints O’Neill as Harry head

Having just acquired a controlling stake in the jeweller-to-the-stars, Aber Diamond (ABZ-T) has installed Thomas O’Neill as chief executive officer of Harry Winston.

O’Neil, who leaves his post as president of London-based luxury goods retailer, Burberry Group, will also become Aber’s president. Robert Gannicott remains as Aber’s CEO; both men will continue as directors of Aber and have been added to Harry Winston’s board of directors.

Before joining Burberry in 2001, O’Neill held executive-level positions at Tiffany & Co. (TIF-N) and Louis Vuitton.

“As a member of our board of directors, Tom has been central to Aber’s realization of its strategy to combine the most profitable “bookends” of the diamond pipeline, retailing and mining, into one specialist diamond company,” said Gannicott.

Earlier this month, Aber agreed to buy a 51% in Harry Winston for US$85 million, including US$20 million in the form of additional working capital. Aber will also have the right to buy the remaining 49% in six years’ time at fair market value.

Aber owns a 40% interest in the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories and markets its share of diamond production independently of Rio Tinto (RTP-N), the operator and 60% owner of the mine. Aber already has a direct off-take deal with Tiffany, which will buy at least US$50 million worth of diamonds annually from Aber for 10 years, representing about a quarter of the value of Aber’s share of the run-of-mine production.


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