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Israel will remain the hub of Lev Leviev's diamond business, while his other areas of business will be centered in London, sources quote his brother Moshe Leviev saying in private conversations with diamond dealers. Moshe Leviev manages Lev Leviev's polished diamond business in Israel.

Well-placed sources in the sector also said that Leviev has clarified that he would be coming to Israel at least once a month. They say that Leviev plans to expand his international real estate business, which has provided higher yields than his diamond business that he has pared down over the past year.

The sources expressed regret over Leviev's decision to leave Israel, saying such a move reflects negatively on the diamond industry and on Israel. "When such a prominent personality in the international business decides to leave, it affects perceptions, even if his business remains in Israel" one explained.

Diamond dealers say that in any case Leviev has no better alternative for his diamond business, since the nearest alternative location, Antwerp - with its proximity to London - is less amenable to the diamond industry.

"If some problem arises, he can talk to anyone he wishes in Israel," said one source. "In Belgium he won't have an attentive ear."

Another reason for maintaining the center of diamond activity in Israel is because his brother and other family members work in the company, and they have no intention of moving to Britain.

Leviev is considered the largest private diamond dealer in the world. Leviev's diamond business, conducted through the privately owned company LLD, includes the entire gamut of diamond production, from mining of raw diamonds, to polishing, to jewel setting and sales.

The company exports more than half a billion dollars annually. Leviev produces almost no diamonds in Israel, but imports polished diamonds for local sale, as well as unpolished stones for sale to other diamond traders.