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Italy: According to Dow Jones, Sika has acquired the remaining shares of the Italian-based Addiment Italia from its joint venture partner Buzzi Unicem. Addiment Italia, founded in 2003, is active in the production and sale of concrete admixtures and cement grinding aids. The transaction will strengthen Sika's production set up in Italy and increase its market presence. Addiment Italia generated sales of Euro14m in 2014.
"The cooperation between Buzzi Unicem and Sika as joint venture partners of Addiment Italia has continued effectively for more than twelve years, with good understanding of the common goals and management decisions that led to great results for both employees and shareholders. We hope that our future business relationship will continue with the same long-lasting success," said Buzzi Unicem's co-CEO Pietro Buzzi.
"The acquisition will allow us to further build upon the successful partnership between Buzzi Unicem and Sika in the admixture business worldwide and strengthen the operational footprint in Italy. We welcome the new employees on board and look forward to developing the business together," said Paul Schuler, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region head.
Greece: According to Reuters, Greece's Titan Cement has postponed its 2014 dividend payment, due on 1 July 2015, because of the bank holiday announced by the Greek government on 28 June 2015. "There will be a new announcement regarding the new date and the method of payment," said Titan Cement about the dividend.
Written by Global Cement staff
01 July 2015
Brazil: Magnesita Refratários has announced an agreement with ACIS, a cement maintenance and operations service company based in China and Saudi Arabia, to extend its services offering Magnesita's refractory products supporting greenfield projects around the world. ACIS and Magnesita will target Chinese cement original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), which are building projects in countries primarily outside of China. The cooperation started on 1 July 2015 and shall continue for three years, with a possible extension.
"Partnering with ACIS which is recognised within the cement industry for its technical and service capability, is an important step for Magnesita's continued growth within the industrial market. This alliance with ACIS will help clients control costs utilising Magnesita's high-quality refractory products as new cement plants are commissioned," said Magnesita CEO, Octavio Lopes.
ACIS will create a commercial team in China tp focus on clients and the development of new projects while Magnesita's technical assistance team will work closely with ACIS to provide application and engineering support.
Written by Global Cement staff
01 July 2015
Togo: Four people were killed when a fuel tank exploded at the West African Cement (WACEM) plant in Tabligbo, the country's security minister has announced.
"Six workers were carrying out welding work on the roof of the tank when the tragedy happened. A total of four people died," said Colonel Yark Damehame to AFP. The explosion left one worker seriously injured and in intensive care. Another worker, an Indian national, is missing and a search is underway according to local media. A staff representative at the plant, Emmanuel Montcho, said that the Indian national was the foreman and that 13 workers in total had been working to repair the tank before the explosion.
Written by David Perilli, Global Cement
01 July 2015
The Greek debt crisis directly hit the local cement industry on Tuesday 30 June 2015 when Titan Cement reported that it was unable to pay a dividend to its shareholders. The leading local cement producer blamed the capital controls introduced by the government.
It is worth looking at the effects on the domestic cement industry as the Eurozone bureaucracy and the Greek government play 'chicken' with each other while Greece starts the default process, having failed to pay the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) payment on 30 June 2015. Greece will now join a group, possibly even more select than the European Union, of countries that have failed to pay back the IMF, including current defaulters like Sudan and Zimbabwe.
A better comparison might be made with Argentina which defaulted upon its foreign debts in 2001. Its construction industry fell by 12% year-on-year in 2001 and by a further 30% in 2002. Cement consumption and cement production utilisation rates hit 23% in 2002. One key difference with Greece is that the country has had major financial difficulties for far longer than Argentina. Argentina ran into financial depression in 1998 and defaulted in 2001. Greece ran into financial trouble following the 2008 financial crisis and then received its first bailout in 2010.
As the capital controls show, even initial responses to the financial situations are impacting upon the standard transactions a limited company conducts. The Financial Times ran an article in May 2015 examining the potential effects on businesses of a debt default and Greek exit from the Eurozone (Grexit). In short, business and commerce will continue where possible reacting to whatever comes their way. For example, an olive oil producer reported switching to exports to make profits. Crucially though, another company interviewed, a construction contractor, worried about potential cuts to government or EU-led infrastructure projects.
As Titan reported in its first quarter results for 2015, its Greek market has been dependent on road building. In February 2014 Titan Cement reported its first improved operating results in seven years followed by profit in 2014 as a whole. The other major cement producers, Lafarge subsidiary Heracles General Cement and Italcementi subsidiary Halyps Cement, reported an improved construction market in 2014 with rising cement volumes. However, it was noted by Lafarge that it was developing exports to 'optimise kiln utilisation.' Titan also noted the benefits of exports in its first quarter report for 2015, focusing on a strengthening US Dollar versus the Euro. Given on-going events, one suspects there is going to be a lot more 'development' of this kind.
To set some sense of scale of the crisis Jim O'Neill, former head of economics at Goldman Sachs, famously calculated that, at the height of its growth, China created an economy the size of Greece's every three months. What happens next is down to the crystal balls of economists, although the path of least resistance now seems to be pointing at further default, departure from the Eurozone and Euro and further significant financial pain for Greece.
It looks likely that the local construction market will stay subdued and exports will offer a lifeline. How much the EU is prepared to let Greece default on its bills and then try and undercut its own over-capacity cement industries remains to be seen. However, since the main cement producers in Greece are all multinational outfits, it will afford them some flexibility in their strategy in coping with the fallout. Meanwhile a cement production capacity of around 14Mt/yr for a population of 11m suggests over capacity by European standards. If exports can't help then the situation looks grim.