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Thailand: Swiss cement maker Holcim Ltd has launched an up to US$741.4m selldown of shares in Thailand's second-largest cement company Siam City Cement (SCC). Holcim is selling 63.3 million SCC shares through its Thai Roc-Cem Ltd unit at an indicative range of between US$10.73 and US$11.68, according to Thomson Reuters.
Nigeria: Dangote Cement's pretax profit fell by 3.2% to US$928m in 2014 due to a gas shortage at its plants and low demand after prolonged wet weather. The company, Africa's biggest cement company, said that sales volumes in its main Nigerian market fell by 3.2% to 12.87Mt, weaker than the decline in the overall market of 0.8% to 21Mt. It expected market growth in Nigeria to be muted in 2015 owing to election and currency worries, worsened by the fall in government revenues that have triggered by the plunge in world oil prices.
Dangote's full-year revenues for 2014 climbed to US$1.97bn during the 12 months to 31 December 2014, up from US$1.97bn in 2013, due to growth from Dangote's other African operations. It said that unreliable gas supplies to its Obajana plant constrained production, while prolonged rainfall in the second half of last year led to a slowdown in construction. Dangote is increasingly turning its attention from Nigeria to elsewhere in Africa. In 2015 it expects to commission new cement plants in Cameroon, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Kenya: ARM Cement posted a pre-tax profit of US$22m for 2014, up by 1% from 2013. ARM's revenue fell by 3% year-on-year to US$150m, mainly because there was no additional capacity expansion during the year.
ARM Cement has predicted that 2015 will be better, with growth in turnover and profit.
"The cement markets continue to grow at double digits with significant demand from the infrastructure segment," said ARM in a statement. Booming economies in east Africa have buoyed cement demand in recent years, but local firms are preparing for increased competition from new entrants like Nigeria's Dangote Cement.
Colombia/US: Cementos Argos recorded 'historic' results in terms of both income and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2014. Income grew to US$2.9m, a year-on-year rise of 17%, while EBITDA hit US$534m, a rise of 8%. The company reported record cement sales of 12.5Mt. Its net profit went up by 59%.
The company's improved performance can, in large part, be attributed to Cementos Argos' enlarged footprint in the United States, where it increased cement production capacity by 107% year-on-year in 2014. The company is now the second-largest cement produer in the southeastern US and the country's second-largest concrete producer. Its strong performance is expected to continue, with the Portland Cement Association (PCA) anticipating year-on-year cement consumption growth of 12% in 2015.
"We see the next decade as the period in which Cementos Argos will see even greater rewards from the largest investments ever made by a Colombian company in the United States, which, jointly, reached a value of more than US$2.2bn," said Jorge Mario Velásquez, CEO of Cementos Argos. "These investments were consistent with our coherent strategy that was carried out with a great degree of discipline and at an opportune moment by taking advantage of a favourable exchange rate."
The company has also consolidated its presence in Central America and the Caribbean, after acquiring new assets in French Guiana for Euro50m and successfully integrating its operations in Honduras. As this is a region that receives a lot of remittances with currencies that are mostly tied to the US Dollar and the drop in oil prices further favours its economies, the countries in the region will also benefit from the upward trend of the North American economy.
Additionally, in Colombia, the company kept its leading position in a dynamic market driven by housing and infrastructure construction. Cementos Argos is participating in more than 70% of the infrastructure projects being carried out within the country and in 60% percent of the free homes programme being implemented by its national government.
Turkey: Sabancı Holding expects its cement business sales to rise by 10 – 15% in 2015 and is looking for acquisition opportunities, according to its chief executive Hakan Gurdal. Sabancı's cement group, which consists of Akçansa and Çimsa, posted a 16% increase in sales to US$980m in 2014.
"We are chasing opportunities for growth abroad. The financial structures of Akçansa and Çimsa are getting stronger, creating serious potential. We currently have the ability to borrow up to US$1.5bn to fund an acquisition," said Gurdal.
Sabancı Holding has long been interested in acquisitions, but has not bought any companies. Gurdal explained that this was due to geopolitical risks in the countries bordering Turkey. Gurdal added that the group had an investment target of US$117 – 129m, most of which would be invested in a plant in the Aegean province of Afyon. The plant is expected to start producing in May 2016.