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Ekati investor drops lawsuit against Harry Winston

NEW YORK (AP) -- Harry Winston Diamond Corp. said Monday that an investor in Canada's Ekati mine has dropped its lawsuit seeking to stop the diamond company's $500 million purchase of the mine.

In addition the Canadian company said that it's been advised that all of the stakeholders in the site have agreed to waive their rights of first refusal, allowing the sale to go forward.

The high-end jewelry and diamond company said in November that it would buy BHP Billiton Canada's controlling interest in the Ekati diamond mine. The mine has a "core zone," which includes the current operating mine and a "buffer zone," comprised of an adjacent area with both development and exploration potential. The two zones are operated under separate joint venture agreements.

C. Fipke Holdings Ltd., which has a 10 percent stake in the core zone and the buffer zone joint ventures, had filed a claim in a Canadian court related to the sale, charging that BHP did not comply with the pre-emptive rights to the mine under the joint venture agreement. It also claimed that the debt financing arrangements related to the deal have interfered with Fipke's ability to arrange its own financing.

Harry Winston and BHP said at the time that Fipke's claim was entirely without merit.

The deal remains subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, Harry Winston said.

Harry Winston U.S. shares rose 12 cents to $14.85 in afternoon trading.