Melbourne, A leading Indian jewellery maker, Rajesh Mehta, wants to deepen his relationship with Australia’s gold industry by buying stakes in Australian mines and potentially opening retail jewellery stores in the country, media reported on Thursday.
Speaking during a visit to Melbourne, Mehta said his company wanted to spend up to $700 million growing its presence in Australia, with mines the primary focus, according to the Melbourne Age.
“We have been importing gold from Australia on and off in the past, but now we want to have a formal presence in Australia,” he said.
“We are setting up a subsidiary in Melbourne primarily to look into acquiring interests into the gold sector of Australia, looking at gold mining assets in terms of equity or loan or whatever is feasible for us so we can ensure a reliable and permanent gold supply-line to our company.
“We would also like to invest in the retail jewellery sector in Australia — that is, take the gold from here, process it in India and then supply the jewellery back here in the retail line that we set up here.”
The Bangalore billionaire’s company, Rajesh Exports, is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of Rs.58 billion ($1.22 billion), and is vertically-integrated through the mining, refining, manufacturing and retailing stages of the gold industry.
The company consumes about 140 tonnes of gold a year, making it one of the world’s biggest private sector buyers of gold, and sells its products through more than 80 retail stores in India plus exports to other countries.
Mehta would not name the Australian mines nor companies that he was looking at, but said talks with advisors had begun.
“We have met a lot of investment bankers here and we are evaluating the best way to get in, what is the best way to do it, as we are looking at not only taking interest in the gold mining sector but we are also looking at forging a relationship with the largest gold-producing mines to buy and ensure supply from them,” he said. “We can be a good consuming partner for them.”
The comments follow recent momentum towards a free trade agreement between Australia and India, and last year’s visit to Australia by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.