Let’s start with the biggest rumor that may have the largest impact on the industry. Autore is closing up shop. Whilst yet only a rumor, it’s the talk of the town. Autore may not be as well known as Paspaley, they are the second largest marketer of South Sea pearls around the world. They are known to process and market the pearls produced by Arafura (which bought Arrow in 2006), Atlas from Indonesia, and about six other Australian companies. If Autore were to dissolve, there would only be one sceptre on the throne.
Speaking of Atlas, managing director Joseph Taylor will be stepping down in June of this year, to be replaced by Mr. Richard Wright, the current general manager. Taylor will remain completely with the company, however, taking on the role of technical advisor, focusing on the biological and research aspects of the company.
Other recent Atlas updates include the introduction of a retail line including Tahitian-style gold pearls on leather last week in Hong Kong, and an issuance of new shares to raise money to fund capital commitments. Hong Kong was likely a wash, given the poor attendance and lackluster sales felt by all who attended.
And what is happening on the Paspaley front? Paspaley is cutting production, pulling most of their boats out of the water, and at the same time merging with Kailis, buying out other producers such as Morgan Pearl and possibly Blue Seas and Cygnet Bay soon. But even Paspaley’s sales are hurting. The news in from Australia is quite clear. South Sea pearl sales have dried up – almost overnight. One must wonder if Paspaley is pinning all hopes on a future monopolization of the industry.
With all the calamities befalling the South Sea pearl industry, one would not expect investors to be diving into the pearling business, right? Well, that may not be the case. A Saudi Arabian company just announced that it plans to pour $200 million into the creating of a large pearl farm and biodiesel production plant off the coast of Port Hedland. Biodiesel and pearls…not the best combination by any stretch of the imagination.
So what other BIG story is brewing in Australia? This one demands a post to call its own. The one hint I can give is that the company name starts with an A.