First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union

May 01, 2012 10:00 ET

First West Capital Funds Multi-Million Dollar Expansion Deal for the Largest Diamond Cutting and Polishing Manufacturer in North America

Funding Accelerates Growth in the Canadian Diamond Industry

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 1, 2012) - First West Capital today announced it has funded a multi-million dollar expansion deal for Crossworks Manufacturing, the largest manufacturer of Canadian diamonds in the world, operating out of Vancouver, Sudbury and Yellowknife.

Last year, Crossworks successfully renewed its exclusive access to the diamonds from the De Beers' Victor Mine in northeastern Ontario - valued at $35 million worth of rough diamonds per year for three years - cementing its position as the only company with purchasing rights for Victor Mine diamonds until 2015. The funding from First West Capital will be used to expand Crossworks' cutting and polishing manufacturing operations to accommodate growth from the renewed contract.

"We are proud to be a Canadian company operating at the highest echelons of the diamond industry," says Uri Ariel, President, Crossworks Manufacturing Ltd. "As part of our growth plan, we found First West Capital to excel in providing the necessary solutions to our business needs. When partnering with financing providers, we look for lenders with practical solutions and First West Capital has shown that they are a practical and business-forward lender. Notably, our partnership will enable us to continue to compete on the international stage."

A decade ago, the diamond industry was barely on the radar in Canada, but now Canada is now one of the largest diamond producing countries in the world.

"We're thrilled to be a financing partner for Crossworks as it expands operations and contributes to the growth of the Canadian diamond industry," says First West Capital vice-president, Kristi Miller. "The diamond industry is very capital intensive. Understanding Crossworks' history, performance and people was critical, as a financing partnership is more than just a question of ratios and repayment terms. After learning more about the Crossworks management team, the diamond industry and Crossworks' existing partners, we were able to put together a financing package that allowed them to pursue this expansion opportunity."

For First West Capital's parent company, First West Credit Union, the deal with Crossworks demonstrates the strength of the credit union's unique multi-brand operating model. First West's CEO, Launi Skinner, comments, "Many people only associate credit unions with savings and loans or small business financing. However, this deal showcases how First West is able to fund large, expanding companies in fast-growing industries, bringing substantial business to our local credit union brands. It's another great example of how we are working big, while working local."

About Crossworks Manufacturing Ltd.

Crossworks is the largest manufacturer of branded Canadian diamonds in the world. With three Canadian polishing facilities (Sudbury, Yellowknife and Vancouver), Crossworks has distribution throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Crossworks is also a DTC (de Beers) Sight Holder, Rio Tinto Select Diamantaire, authorized partner for Argyle Pink Diamonds and a Forevermark Diamantaire.

About First West Capital

First West Capital is First West Credit Union's newest division, and is a $60 million fund established to provide subordinated debt and mezzanine financing to small- and medium-sized businesses. Led by Kristi Miller and Robert Napoli, the First West Capital team has more than 25 years of commercial lending experience including 18 years in subordinated debt financing.

Formed through the merger of Envision Financial and Valley First credit unions, First West Credit Union is committed to local decision making and taking advantage of local business knowledge. The same is true for First West Capital. With on-the-ground knowledge of its local markets, First West Capital has the advantages of speed and flexibility. For more information, visit firstwestcapital.ca.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $6.6 billion in assets under administration, more than 169,000 members and close to 1,400 employees. It operates 37 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial and Valley First brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit firstwestcu.ca.

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