Brink's issued a statement today confirming that an armed gang attacked a Swiss-bound Helvetic Airways plane at Brussels Airport on Feb. 18, stealing an unknown amount of diamonds.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre has put the value of the goods — both rough and polished stones — at $50 million. Brink's employees were loading the plane when the robbers struck, but no injuries were reported.
Brink's had been shipping a portion of the diamonds that were stolen, but the company's loss exposure has not been disclosed. In the statement, the company confirmed that it has contacted all customers involved in the shipment, notifying them they will be reimbursed for the loss. The company said its insurance program would cover its losses.
According to the company, this theft will have a "significant impact" on its first-quarter earnings, but Brink's full-year forecast is unchanged. Eariler this month, company officials predicted a profit margin of between 6 percent and 6.5 percent for the year and organic revenue growth of 5 percent to 8 percent.
In addition to full-year predictions, the company also announced that it will divest its cash-in-transit operations in Germany, a task that has already been completed in France and Morocco. The firm's CIT business in Poland will be sold off as of March 31.
According to the New York Times
, the eight robbery suspects arrived at Brussels airport dressed as police and wielding automatic weapons, robbing the plane 18 minutes before takeoff.
Caroline De Wolf, a spokesman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, said diamonds are transported by plane because it's a "safe and controlled" means of transportation.
"We do hope additional security measures can be put in place in order to safeguard a fluent and safe transport of diamonds," she said in a statement. "We find it hard to understand how a robbery such as (Monday's) heist could take place. We are currently awaiting the results of the investigation but we do fear the damage for Antwerp, the world's leading trade centre, is significant."
Diamond Centre statistics put the volume of exported polished diamonds at 1.1-percent more in January when compared to the same period a year ago. The value of these diamonds has increased by 8.55 percent. Import volumes, however, dropped in January, year over year, falling by 13.41 percent, representing a 2.32-percent decrease in value. - Jon Ross