26 July 2016

New era at Firestone

Robert Tyerman

Philip Kenny, chairman and co-founder of Firestone Diamonds, has resigned from the southern Africa-focused company.

A second-generation Irish entrepreneur, he has left the company (now producing from Liqhobong in Lesotho and the BK11 mine in Botswana, but still losing money) to ‘pursue other business interests’ at a time when its shares languish at a fraction of their 1998 AIM float price.

Lucio Genovese, a South African mining financier with experience as Moscow chief for mining and metals trading giant Glencore and at Swiss-based buy-out specialist InCentive Capital, has replaced Kenny in the chair at Firestone.

The company produced 34,000 carats in the year to last June and lost £2.8 million pre-tax on revenues of £2.4 million. 

Tim Wilkes, who became London-based Firestone’s chief executive officer last year, points out that it was Kenny who spearheaded the company’s acquisition in 2010 of Liqhobong, which is hoped to play a key part in a planned ramp-up of annual production to one million carats in 2014.

Rough diamond prices have fallen some 30 per cent since their peak last summer, but the market is hoping for renewed strength in Chinese and Indian demand this year. 

Floated 14 years ago at 114p, Firestone shares have fallen from 36.5p to 12.25p within the past year. They could have some speculative appeal as a recovery punt.

Tags: Firestone Diamonds, Philip Kenny, Resignation

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