Real Estate News

Israeli Real Estate Baron Sells Diamond Mine to Chinese for $400 Million

Israeli real estate tycoon Lev Leviev has old his 18 percent stake in Angola's Catoca diamond mine to China's Sonangol International for $400 million, Russia's "Kommersant" newspaper reports.

Globes, an Israel business news publication, note Leviev acquired his interest in the mine in the 1990s for $20 million.

Russia's state owned diamond producer Alrosa holds 32.8% of Catoca. Globes reports Alrosa CEO Fyodor Andreyev has formally told Russia's Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin about the sale.

The deal is scheduled to close in June. At closing, Sonangol will become the first Chinese company to own part of a diamond mine, according to Globes.

In 2010, Catoca had $527 million revenue from rough diamonds and reported a net profit of $111 million, Globes reports.

 According to Wikipedia, Leviev is an international investor in residential real estate, shopping malls, energy, fashion, telecommunications, and media, which attained a market value of $8 billion in 2007.

The value of the company plunged with the onset of the 2007-2008 global financial crises, with company debt reportedly totaling $5.5 billion in September 2009. Leviev had purchased 60% of the company in 1996 for $400 million.

Wikipedia notes the 55-year-old Leviev is a Bukharian-Israeli billionaire businessman, with a net worth of roughly $1.5 billion following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Leviev has been described as one of the wealthiest Jewish individuals in the world and has been a major philanthropist for Jewish causes in Eastern Europe and Israel. His diamond mining investments in Angola and his investments in Israeli settlements have been the target of protests.

Leviev was born in Tashkent, Uzbek SSR in 1956, and today lives in England.

He is currently controlling shareholder and chairman of Africa-Israel. Africa-Israel is on the verge of insolvency, asking to restructure NIS 21 billion of debt.

According to Wikipedia, in 2005, Africa-Israel completed a $230 million 5,800-apartment project in Modi'in Illit, an ultra-Orthodox settlement in the West Bank.

 In early 2007, Africa-Israel opened a luxury jewelry store on Old Bond Street in London and was considering plans to invest billions in the Far East, Argentina, Brazil and Russia. A little later, the global sub-prime mortgage crisis broke, and the value of Africa-Israel's real estate investments plummeted, particularly in New York, where it had invested heavily.

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