Displaying items by tag: Cemex
Colombia: Cement producers are reacting to a boom in infrastructure projects in Colombia by increasing production and upgrading existing production capacity. Demand for ordinary Portland cement is expected to grow in the short-term due to the government's 4G roads programme and the growth of the housing sector. Current expansion projects in the country include Cementos Argos’ new 1.4Mt/yr plant at Sogamoso in Boyaca and Cemex’s 1Mt/yr cement plant at Maceo in Antioquia.
World: A new report released by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has highlighted the potential costs of future CO2 emissions and water supply constraints for 12 of the top global cement producers. CDP’s research shows that, even at a US$10/t CO2 price, US$4.5bn could be wiped off profits, with the least efficient companies most at risk.
By compiling questionnaire responses, the report ranks 12 cement producers for performance across five key areas – emissions, energy and material management, carbon cost exposure, water resilience and carbon regulation supportiveness. It found that LafargeHolcim, Shree Cement and CRH were the least CO2- and resource-intensive producers, with Italcementi, Cementir and Taiheiyo Cement the most highly intensive. Several major Chinese and other regional players failed to respond.
CDP found that many of the major cement companies have emissions targets that are set to expire in the next few years. It argues that, with the Paris Agreement driving towards net zero emissions by the middle of the century, cement companies have a ‘historic opportunity to set targets that can ‘future-proof’ their businesses.’
Tarek Soliman, Senior Analyst, Investor Research at CDP said, “This is the first piece of major research to break down how major players in the cement industry are meeting the challenge of reducing emissions in line with the science called for by the Paris Agreement. Cement will be a crucial building block as the Paris Agreement is put into effect, as it accounts for 5% of the world’s man-made emissions. The results couldn’t be clearer for companies and investors: a tipping point for cement companies is not far away.”
“As carbon-related regulatory measures inevitably tighten and the carbon price signal strengthens, investors will expect both strategic and rapid changes from cement companies, including better use of currently available options as well as investment in longer–term ones, whether this be in areas such as low-carbon product development or the deployment of carbon capture, use and storage.”
Mexico: Cemex has closed the sale of its operations in Bangladesh and Thailand to Siam City Cement for approximately US$53m. The proceeds obtained from this transaction will be used mainly for debt reduction and for general corporate purposes. The deal was announced in March 2016.
Cemex took a major step towards cutting its debts last week when it announced the sale of selected assets in the US for US$400m. Two cement plants in Odessa, Texas and Lyons, Colorado were included in the deal along with three cement terminals and businesses in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC) was announced as the buyer.
Together the two plants being sold hold a cement production capacity of 1.5Mt/yr giving a rough cost of US$267/t for the assets. This compares to the cost of US$170/t that the European Cement Association (CEMBUREAU) estimates is required to build new capacity. Back in August 2015 when Taiheiyo Cement’s Californian subsidiary CalPortland purchased Martin Marietta Materials’ two cement plants in the state it paid US$181/t. Summit Materials paid far more at US$375/t in July 2015 when it purchased Lafarge’s cement plant in Davenport, Iowa, although that deal included seven cement terminals and a swap of a terminal. Other sales in 2014 to Martin Marietta Materials and Cementos Argos also hit values of around US$450/t involving lots of other assets including cement grinding plants and ready mix concrete plants.
Back on Cemex, the current sale to GCC maintains its position as the third largest cement producer in the US after the HeidelbergCement acquisition of Italcementi completes in July 2016 subject to Federal Trade Commission approval. However, it holds it with a reduced presence. Its cement production capacity will fall to 13Mt/yr from 14.5Mt/yr. It loses cement production presence in Colorado although it may retain distribution if it holds on to its terminal in Florence. In Texas it retains the Balcones cement plant near San Antonio and up to nine cement terminals depending on which ones it sells to GCC.
Selling assets in the US must be a tough decision for Cemex given that a quarter of its net sales came from the country in 2015. This was its single biggest territory for sales. This share has increased in the first quarter of 2016 as the US market for construction materials has continued to pick up.
Withdrawing from western Texas with its reliance on the oil industry makes sense. The plant it has retained in that state, the Balcones plant, is within the so-called Texas Triangle and so can hopefully continue to benefit from Texas’ demographic trends for continued housing starts and suchlike. Colorado is one of the middling US states in terms of population and likely to be a lower priority than other locations. The sales will see Cemex retrench its cement production base in southern and eastern parts of the country with the exception of the Victorville plant in California.
We’ve been watching Cemex keenly as other multinational cement producers have merged and laid out plans to merge in recent years. Saddled by debts, Cemex has appeared unable to either buy more assets itself and has remained distant from any talk of merger activity itself. The sales announcements in the US reinforce the image of a company taking action to relieve itself of its debts in 2016 following sales in Thailand, Bangladesh and the Philippines, and amended credit agreements and more borrowing. However, sales of cement plants in west Texas and Colorado outside of the strong markets in the US don’t quite suggest a company that has really committed yet to reducing its debt burden. Cemex continues to walk a tightrope between keeping the creditors at bay and riding the recovery in the US construction market.
This article was updated on 14 June 2016 with amended production capacity data for the Odessa cement plant
Mexico: On 9 May 2016 Cemex announced that it had amortised debt worth US$397.4m as part of its refinancing strategy to lower costs. Cemex, which had been selling assets to cut debt, announced an offer to buy back up to US$400m in debt in April 2016.
In April 2016 the shareholders of BP voted against a pay package of US$20m for the company's chief executive officer (CEO) Bob Dudley. The vote was non-binding to BP but it clearly sent a message to the management. Subsequently, the chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg acknowledged the mood amongst the company's investors and stated in his speech at the annual general meeting that, "We hear you. We will sit down with our largest shareholders to make sure we understand their concerns and return to seek your support for a renewed policy."
The link to the cement industry here is that many of the world's major cement producers are public companies. Similar to BP they internally set CEO and leading executive pay and remuneration packages. Just like BP, cement companies too could run into similar complaints from their shareholders, for example, should the construction and cement markets have similar jolts that the oil industry has faced since mid-2014.
To be clear: this article is not attempting to pass judgement on how much these CEOs are being compensated. It is merely seeing how compensation compares amongst a selection of leading cement companies. LafargeHolcim's revenue in 2015 was greater than the gross domestic product of over 90 countries. Running companies of this size is a demanding job. What is interesting here is how it compares and what happens when it is perceived to have grown too high, as in the case of BP.
It should also be noted that this is an extremely rough comparison of the way CEO pay and wage bills for large companies are presented. For example, the CEO total salary includes incentives, shares and pension payments. The staff wage bills includes pension payments, social charges and suchlike.
Graph 1: Comparison of CEO total remuneration from selected cement companies in 2015. Source: Company annual reports.
There isn't a great deal to comment here except that compared to the average wage these are high from a rank-and-file worker perspective! The total salary for Eric Olsen, the CEO of LafargeHolcim, is lower than HeidelbergCement and Italcementi, which seems odd given that LafargeHolcim is the bigger company. However, Olsen has only been in-post since mid-2015. By contrast, Bernd Scheifele became the chairman of the managing board of HeidelbergCement in 2005. Carlo Pesenti, CEO of Italcementi and part of the controlling family, took over in 2004. Albert Manifold, CEO of CRH, also sticks out with a relatively (!) low salary given the high revenue of the company.
Graph 2: Comparison of CEO remuneration to average staff cost and total company revenue in 2015. Source: Company annual reports.
This starts to become more interesting. HeidelbergCement's higher CEO/staff and CEO/revenue ratios might be explained by Scheifele's longer tenure. Yet Italcementi definitely sticks out with a much higher CEO wage compared to both the average staff wage and the company's revenue. Again, CRH stands out with a much lower CEO/staff ratio. Dangote's CEO/staff ratio is low but its CEO/revenue ratio is in line with the other companies' figures.
Consider the figures for China Resources and this suggests that CEO/revenue ratio may be more important than the CEO/staff ratio. The implication being that the market will only tolerate a ratio of up to about 0.05%. Any higher and the CEO's family has to own the company. Which, of course, is the case with Carlo Pesenti and Italcementi. Until HeidelbergCement takes over later in 2016 that is.
That’s as far as this rough little study of CEO remuneration at cement companies will go. So, next time anybody reading this article from a cement company asks for a pay rise, consider how much your CEO is receiving.
US: Mexico’s Cemex has agreed to sell a raft of assets in the US in a US$400m divestment to pay down the company's debt. The assets include the Lyons cement plant in Colorado, the Odessa cement plant in Texas, three terminals in Texas and building materials businesses in Texas and New Mexico.
The assets will be purchased by Mexican rival Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC), which already has three integrated cement plants in the south and central United States. The acquisition, due to be completed by the end of 2016, will increase GCC’s cement capacity in the US by 1Mt/yr to around 5.6Mt/yr.
Cemex is expected to sell up to US$1.5bn worth of assets during the course of 2016 and 2017. It is still reeling from debt that it took on from its 2007 acquisition of Australian rival Rinker, which came directly before the onset of the global economic downturn.
US: Kosmos Cement, a subsidiary of Cemex, has pleaded guilty to violating workplace safety standards. It is liable to be fined to up to US$400,000 towards the death of a worker at its Louisville cement plant in Kentucky in 2014. Michael Egan, Cemex's executive vice president and general counsel, entered the guilty plea for the company. Contract employee Felipe Mata Vizcaya fell to his death after opening an elevator door when the elevator car wasn't there, according to the Courier-Journal.
Cemex is required to pay US$200,000 immediately and the balance if it doesn't make required repairs within three years. It has also pledged to design, operate and test all elevators at the site to meet national safety standards and to install additional safety features.
In a statement, US Attorney John Kuhn called the matter "one of the worst cases of negligence on the part of a company." The company was accused of violating the Mine Safety and Health Act, and the case was investigated by the US Labor Department's Mine Safety & Health Administration.
Mexico: Cemex’s net sales have risen by 3% year-on-year to US$3.2bn in the first quarter of 2016 when adjusted for ongoing operations and for currency fluctuations. Its adjusted gross profit rose by 10% to US$1bn and its operating earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 3% to US$583m before adjustment. The Mexico-based cement producer attributed the rising sales to higher prices and sales volumes increases in selected territories.
“We continue to see favourable results from the implementation of our value-before-volume strategy, with increases in sequential pricing in our three core products,” said Cemex chief executive Fernando A Gonzalez.
The company’s overall cement sales volumes rose slightly to 15.6Mt from 15.5Mt. By region, cement volumes rose by 8% in the US, by 3% in South American, Central America and the Caribbean and by 10% in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Volumes remained static in Europe and fell by 13% in Mexico.
Europe: The Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement (LEILAC) consortium has secured Euro12m in funding over five years from the European Commission Horizon 2020 Grant programme to test Calix’s direct separation process to capture CO2 emissions from cement and lime production. The consortium comprises HeidelbergCement, Cemex, Tarmac, Lhoist, Amec Foster Wheeler, ECN, Imperial College, PSE, Quantis and the Carbon Trust. The consortium will also contribute a further Euro9m towards the project.
During the first three years, the project will focus on finalising the design of the demonstration plant, to be constructed at the HeidelbergCement plant in Lixhe, Belgium once the necessary permits have been secured. The high temperature Direct Separation Calciner pilot unit will then undergo two years of testing in a standard operational environment, at a feed rate capacity of 240t/day of cement raw meal and 200t/day ground limestone respectively, on a continuous basis for several weeks.
Fundamental research on the process demands and performance will be carried out to demonstrate that the technology works sufficiently and robustly enough to be scaled up to full operational use. The project results will be shared widely with industry at key intervals during the testing.
Calix’s direct separation technology is achieved by re-engineering the process flows used in the best available technology for lime and cement calcination. Carbonate calcination occurs by indirect counterflow heating, and consequentially the flue gases are not mixed with the CO2 emitted from the carbonate minerals. This technology is already operating at a commercial scale for magnesite calcination. It does not require any separation technologies, new materials or processes. The technology is complementary with other carbon capture methods already developed in the power and cement sector, such as oxyfuel, and can make use of alternative fuels.