Displaying items by tag: Brazil
Brazil: Apodi, owned by entrepreneurs Ivens Dias Branco (68%) and Juscelino Sarkis (32%), is to invest US$444m to set up a cement plant in the Brazilian state of Sergipe. It reportedly anticipates that the move will reinforce its stronghold in the north east of the country.
The new unit will have capacity for 5000t/day, adding to Apodi's two plants in Pecem and Quixada, Ceara state and expanding the company capacity to 10,000t/day in total.
South America: Brazilian conglomerate Votorantim has teamed up with Spanish company Cementos Molins to expand their cement businesses in Latin America through newly formed cement company Yacuces.
Votorantim will have a 51% stake in the joint venture. The agreement involves the purchase of 66.7% of Bolivian cement company Itacamba for US$18.6m by Yacuces.
According to a statement filed with Spain's capital markets regulating commission CNVM, Itacamba has plans to invest around US$220m in the next two years to build a cement factory. Votorantim and Molins already have business partnerships in Argentina and Uruguay through cement companies Cementos Avellaneda and Cementos Artigas.
Brazil: Lafarge and Holcim have announced further details on their proposal for comprehensive divestments in Brazil as part of their planned mega-merger to create LafargeHolcim.
As announced on 7 July 2014, and to anticipate potential competition authorities' requirements, the joint Divestment Committee has agreed to propose to Brazilian competition authority CADE a package of high-quality assets from both Holcim and Lafarge. This will include three integrated cement plants and two grinding stations that share a combined capacity of 3.6Mt/yr. Also included is one ready-mix concrete plant in the south east of the country.
These proposed divestments have been presented to CADE in the context of pre-filing negotiations and will now be subject to review and further discussion until a final decision is reached with the authority.
The divestment process will be carried out in the framework of the relevant social processes and on-going dialogue with the employee representatives' bodies and will be conducted in parallel to discussions with the competition authorities and potential buyers. The divestment process will be completed subject to the closing of the merger between Holcim and Lafarge.
A Lafarge and Holcim joint statement said that Brazil is an important market for the future LafargeHolcim Group and that the company will remain committed to the country, serving customers from a network in cement, aggregates and ready-mix concrete.
Brazil: According to Datamark, the Brazilian cement industry has doubled in size, moving from 10th place to 4th place in terms of global consumption. Currently, Brazil's cement consumption is only behind the US, India and China. It is expected that Brazil's cement consumption will reach 75Mt/yr by 2016 and 85Mt/yr by 2020.
Brazil: The leaders of the rapidly growing BRIC economy countries, which include Brazil, Russia, India, China and now South Africa, will launch their own development bank at a summit in Brazil in 14-18 July 2014. The BRIC nations are also working on proposals to set up a 'mini International Monetary Fund (IMF),' according to the Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov.
The plan for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to set up a bank to finance infrastructure projects began in 2012 and the group agreed on the project's outline in 2013 after seeing investors divert money from emerging economies, hurting their currencies. Disagreements over funding, management and where to locate the headquarters of the new entity held up progress, but Siluanov said that the leaders themselves would decide whether it should be based in Shanghai or Delhi when they meet in Fortaleza, Brazil in 14-18 July 2014.
The New Development Bank will be able to start lending in 2016. It will focus chiefly on infrastructure projects and will be available to other members of the United Nations. The five nations will put up an initial US$2bn each in financing with a further US$40bn in guarantees. The financing will eventually build up to US$100bn. Siluanov added that the five leaders would also sign a blueprint agreement on the group's other signature project, a US$100bn fund to steady the currency markets.
"We have reached an agreement that, in the current conditions of capital volatility, it is important for our countries to have this buffer in addition to the IMF," said Siluanov. The mini IMF would act as an emergency fund for members facing currency devaluation or which were hit by sudden currency flight. China will contribute US$41bn, while Brazil, India and Russia will each give US$18bn and South Africa US$5bn.
Brazil: The Foreign Trade Chamber (Camex) of the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade has approved anti-dumping measures against six countries: China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Mexico and the US. The Camex has also added a 4% levy to cement imports.
Dumping is the commercial practice whereby a country exports products at lower prices than those charged domestically in order to cause problems to its competitors. Whenever the practice is confirmed via a probe, imports of the products at hand from the dumping country can be overtaxed. The right to apply anti-dumping duties may be granted permanently or temporarily. Provisional authorisations occur whenever probes uncover signs of dumping. They are valid for up to six months and may be converted into permanent authorisations. The latter occur following more thorough probes and are generally valid for up to five years.
The Camex approved the inclusion of six products on the Exception List to the Mercosur Common External Tariff (Letec). When a product is added, its import tax rate can be raised or lowered in relation to the rate applied by the Latin American block's countries. The rate for cement, which was formerly exempt, will now have a 4% rate levied.
The Brazilian cement industry took a knock last week when the competition watchdog Cade (Administrative Council for Economic Defence) confirmed its intention to issue the sector with fines worth a combined US$1.4bn.
Under the terms of the ruling, Votorantim will have to pay US$672m, Cimpor will pay US$133m, InterCement Brasil will pay US$108m, Itabira will pay US$184m, Holcim will pay US$227m and Itambé will have to pay US$39.4m. The companies involved will be forced on average to sell 24% of their assets. Votorantim, for example, will be compelled to divest 35% of its cement assets or 11Mt/yr of production capacity. In addition a fine of nearly US$2m is to be imposed on the cement associations ABCP and SNIC.
To give these figures some context, Votorantim reported a net profit of US$105m in 2013 across all its business lines including cement, metals, mining and pulp. The fine Cade wants to impose is over six times greater than this! A fine of this size will be a serious setback for Votorantim if it goes through. Votorantim's net revenue for its cement business in 2013 was about US$5.5bn. This places the fine at just over 10% of company annual turnover, a common upper limit for fines imposed by anti-competition authorities around the world. 10% of turnover, for example, is the maximum percentage fine that European Union competition regulators can impose.
Although hard to compare with the other Brazilian cement producers due to differences in financial reporting, the proposed fines seem equally tough on the other companies. Before the acquisition of Cimpor inflated its financial figures, InterCement reported a net revenue of US$1.2bn in 2011. This places its fine at 9% of annual turnover. Holcim's net sales in its Latin American region as a whole, including operations in Brazil, totalled US$3.73bn in 2013.
Both Holcim and Cimpor have issued corporate rebuttals to Cade insisting that they followed and still follow all the necessary competition laws. Both companies intend to fight the decision. Votorantim went further in its response saying that it considering the fine 'unjust and unprecedented' and it warned that the ruling would cripple any investments in the Brazilian cement sector. The ruling also forbids the company from opening new factories within the next five years, places limits on the company taking out new loans and prevents it from consolidating its market share.
Internationally, the Cade fine surpasses the US$1.1bn Competition Commission of India penalty imposed against 11 producers in India in 2013. Other recent anti-trust fines against the cement industry include a Euro80m fine in Poland that was upheld on appeal in 2013 and the US$19.3m Lafarge was charged in South Africa in 2012.
The prosecutors pointed out that work on public roads had been inflated by nearly US$8m. Overall they reckon that the cartel cost the Brazilian economy US$6.3bn. Examples likes this are unlikely to gain sympathy for the accused cement producers from a Brazilian public already angry about the amount of public money spent on building excessive sports stadiums and the like for the Football World Cup later in June 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. In the meantime though – over to the lawyers.
Brazil: Brazil's antitrust watchdog Cade has fined six cement makers a combined US$1.4bn for fixing prices for two decades and ordered the companies to dispose of many assets.
Votorantim Cimentos SA, Camargo Correa SA's Intercement Brasil, Itabira Agro Industrial SA and Cia de Cimentos Itambé SA, as well as Switzerland's Holcim Ltd and Cimpor Cimentos de Portugal SGPS SA agreed to set prices to force rivals from the market, according to councillors at Cade. Cade ignored the companies' claims that there was no evidence of price-rigging and ordered them to cut installed capacity in concrete-services by 20% in large markets. The ruling also requires the companies to do away with any cross shareholdings.
The ruling, which followed an eight-year inquiry, came as allegations of cost overruns have dogged preparations for the 2014 FIFA Football World Cup. Local cement sales have more than doubled over the past decade and prices have jumped by about 66% in that period following a commodities-based boom and government efforts to expand roads and other infrastructure.
"This cartel was so strong that it had clear strategic goals," said councillor Márcio de Oliveira Junior. The six companies named in the ruling control about 75% of the domestic market for cement and concrete. The decision was slightly milder than councillor Alessandro Octaviani's January 2014 proposal, which called for bigger asset disposals. Cade also imposed sanctions on Abesc (an industry group representing concrete producers), ABCP (Brazil's Portland cement group) and SNIC, which represents local cement factories.
Lawyers said that litigation could go on for years should the companies appeal. Cade had previously blocked any attempt for early settlements. One of the lawyers involved, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that the severity of the fines and the asset disposals are unheard of in similar antitrust cases around the world. Industry leaders allege that Cade has no legal power to impose any asset sales.
Under terms of the ruling, Votorantim will have to pay US$672m in fines, Cimpor will pay US$133m, Intercement Brasil will pay US$108m, Itabira will pay US$184m, Holcim will pay US$227 and Itambé will have to pay US$39.4m. Votorantim will challenge the decision, "Because it is unjustified, lacks legal basis and ignores market facts," said Votorantim. SNIC has also said that it plans to appeal Cade's decision.
Cement cartels (or at least cases of cartel-like behaviour) have reared their ugly heads this week... again. In two different markets, Australia and Brazil, competition authorities are at various stages of taking major action against large proportions of their respective cement industries. In another, Europe, it is the cement producers that are taking on the authorities.
This week, the Australian Federal Court has found five producers guilty of agreeing anti-competitive contracts with regard to fly-ash supply contracts from power stations in the state of Victoria. Only Cement Australia Holdings was not accused. Penalties are to be determined at a later date – watch this space.
As drastic as the Australian situation may be, it is Brazil's anti-trust authority Cade that looks set to make the biggest 'splash' in a cement industry in 2014. On 13 March 2014 it was reported that a US$1.32bn fine, split over six cement producers, has been put on hold after the producers disputed a ruling that would see them lose an average 24% of their cement assets each. So big is this fine that it actually eclipses the US$1.1bn fine seen in India in 2012. In light of the amount of influence that they look set to lose, it now looks extremely likely that the producers will appeal. This sets the scene for indeterminably long waits for legal proceedings and more evidence to be collected. Whatever happens in Brazil, there will be major implications for its increasingly-concentrated cement market.
Elsewhere, in a strange inversion of the normal situation, in Europe it is the cement producers that are taking action. This week the European Court has rejected an appeal from eight major cement producers including Holcim, HeidelbergCement and Cemex subsidiaries with respect to the European Commission's handling of an anti-cartel investigation that began in 2008. That case saw anti-trust investigations start in 2010. Proceedings continue.
As stated previously in this column, cartel-like behaviour is not necessarily indicative of a formal cartel. There are innumerable factors that make every case different and, in each, proving actual collusion is very hard indeed. In the cement industry however, it appears that 'convictions' in cartel cases are easier to spot than in other sectors.
"The first thing for any new competition regulator is to go out and find the cement cartel. My experience of this subject is, it is always there, somewhere," wrote Richard Whish, a Professor of Law at King's College London in 2001. "The only countries in which I had been unable to find the cement cartel is where there is a national state-owned monopoly for cement."
The authorities will keep looking and producers, guilty or not, will continue to wait for their call.
Brazil: The Brazilian cement industry is on hold over a US$1.32bn fine likely to be confirmed by the Brazilian Competition Authority (Cade) for cartel practices. A legal battle is likely to follow the final ruling of Cade in a process that would include the mandatory sale of 24% of the cement assets of the companies involved.
Votorantim Cimentos received a US$662m fine and will be compelled to divest 35% of its assets that represent 11Mt/yr of cement capacity, equivalent to 15% of the cement demand in Brazil. Holcim is to be fined US$216m and is required to sell 22% of its assets. Itabira will be fined US$175m and will be required to sell 22% of its assets. Cimpor faces a US$126m fine and the sale of 25% of its assets. InterCement is to be fined US$103m and will be required to sell 25% of its assets. Itambé will be fined US$37.5m and will not have to sell any assets, as the company operates just one cement plant.