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Leviev comes to London

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-03-14

Lev Leviev

Lev Leviev

Israeli billionaire and the world's largest privately owned diamond manufacturer, Lev Leviev is to take on mighty De Beers by opening a chain of retail outlets to sell diamonds.

The first Leviev will open in London in the spring at 31 Old Bond Street while a branch in New York will welcome customers towards the end of the year.

According to Forbes magazine, Mr Leviev, who was born in Uzbekistan in 1956 is worth an estimated $2.6bn.

The London store will also be sponsoring a major Russian event, the Russian Rhapsody Gala in London on April 24.

"We are thrilled to open our first flagship store in London, which is in many ways the diamond capital of the world, and certainly one of the most vibrant international cities today," Mr Leviev said. "We are looking forward to bringing our discerning private clientele a most extraordinary array of diamonds, certain that our selection and price points will also please a wider audience."

As well as his own company, Mr Leviev is one of the main shareholders and chairman of Africa-Israel Investments. The company has interests in a wide range of businesses including property and telecommunications.

Mr Leviev is also president of the Russian-based Federation of Jewish Communities which looks after the interests of Jews living in the former Soviet Union. He has donated millions of dollars to help Jews reconnect with their Judaism after years of communist rule.

"My dream is that every Jew will know he’s a Jew and that every Jew can get the things connected to Judaism that he wasn’t able to receive in the last 80 years," he has said.