Graff Diamonds to raise $1 billion in Hong Kong IPO

British jeweler Graff Diamonds Ltd., is said to be preparing an IPO in Hong Kong market, aimed to raise up to $1 billion. Laurence Graff, chairman and founder, plans to use funds from a proposed share sale to add stores in Asia as the region’s

demand for luxury goods grows.

“Graff isGraff Diamonds to raise $1 billion in Hong Kong IPO the ideal type of company to be listed in Hong Kong,” said Graff at his only shop in Hong Kong. “We intend to open up even more stores in Asia.” He didn’t elaborate on the company’s share sale plans. Graff on Nov. 3 bought 1.46 million shares of Gem Diamonds Ltd., the London-listed diamond mining company, increasing his stake to 15.12 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company plans to open outlets in Macau and Hangzhou, the largest city of Zhejiang province in eastern China, next year, Laurence Graff, 73, the chairman and founder of the London-based company said in a Nov. 18 interview with Bloomberg TV. The retailer has 32 stores worldwide including in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei, according to its website.

Graff, who is preparing to raise $1 billion in an IPO in Hong Kong next year according to a person familiar with the matter, is following brands such as Prada SpA, which are tapping Asia’s accelerating demand for luxury goods as the European and U.S. economies stall. Sales of luxury items in China including clothes, handbags, fine jewelry and watches will more than double to about 180 billion yuan ($28 billion) in 2015 from last year, McKinsey & Co. estimates.

The English jeweler is involved in every stage of diamond production, from the sourcing of rough diamonds to cutting and polishing and the design of the gem pieces. “We’re a vertically integrated company so we can control everything,” said Graff.

Graff, who started working at the age of 15 in the Hatton Garden Jewelry district in London, paid 16.4 million pounds ($26 million) for the 35.56-carat grayish-blue Wittelsbach Diamond at Christie’s International in London in December 2008, then the highest price for a gem at an auction.

“It’s my life’s work,” said Graff, dipping into his jacket pocket to show a diamond he said was worth $50 million. “I can’t live without diamonds.”

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