Displaying items by tag: GCW47
UK: If Tarmac and Lafarge go through with their proposed JV tie-up in the UK, Lafarge will be obliged to sell its long-established Hope plant in Derbyshire, in the heart of the Peak District National Park, as well as its top-quality limestone quarry and rail depot connections. The Competition Commission has indicated that it would like an 'outsider' to buy the package, which also includes significant other assets in aggregates and readymix. The question is, who might be interested to buy it?
The UK is now a mature market, which has contracted significantly over the last decade, so that heady growth is not a possibility. The competition authorities will ensure that there is real competition in the UK building materials markets, so that only 'normal' margins of 5-10% can be expected - rather than inflated cartel-like or oligopolistic margins of 20% and beyond. Given that the return on capital invested is going to be quite low, why would anyone want to commit their cash (or their credit) to buying into the UK construction materials market? Why not put your money into bio-tech, or telecomms or even into a micro-development bank in the developing world?
I guess that it is largely down to a calculation of risk versus reward (as usual). The rewards of investing in a cement plant and integrated building materials business in the UK may be (relatively) low, but then the risks are also low: the UK is a fairly safe bet for long-term moderate growth, with strong population growth and robust GDP per capita.
Who would buy? A company that wants to balance its portfolio (perhaps a company with most of its eggs currently in the fast-growth/developing world basket), is cash rich (or has access to cheap credit), which is already in cement and aggregates and which might wish to carry home some of the technical knowledge from the deal might be interested. Perhaps some of the Chinese state-owned enterprises or ambitious mid-tier companies from the Middle East would be interested. As ever though, whether a deal is done depends on the price asked - and in the end, the price asked might be too high for anyone.
Thierry Legrand: Lafarge has appointed a new country CEO for its South African operations. Thierry Legrand was formerly the General Manager of Lafarge in South Africa but has changed role in line with the French building material giant's worldwide restructuring programme.
"Implementing this new structure will allow us to focus more efficiently on our customers and get closer to our markets," said Legrand. "We will use the strengths of our different product lines to design solutions in line with our customers' needs."
Legrand has managed several senior portfolios within the Lafarge group, both in South Africa and Europe.
Japan/US: After a preliminary visit to the island of Pagan, part of the US's Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Japanese investors have announced that they are looking to lease roughly 2000 hectares of public land on the island to mine what they consider 'best quality' pozzolan for a period of 10-15 years and to recycle pre-treated tsunami debris that they plan to bring in from Japan. Pozzolan is a siliceous volcanic ash used to produce hydraulic cement.
However, some CNMI residents are already expressing opposition to what they describe as the 'desecration' of Pagan by turning it into a dumping ground. Others have expressed concerns that the eventual use of the island will go beyond pozzolan mining and tsunami debris recycling.
The Japanese investors, aware of these sentiments, are trying to quell public opposition to their project, saying that the tsunami debris will be pre-treated, non-toxic and non-radioactive. They added that Japanese and international laws prohibit the shipment of highly toxic materials from one country to another. They added that at least 80% of the tsunami debris would be recycled on Pagan and brought back to Japan and other destinations. The tsunami debris would come from the Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures, which are both north of Fukushima where the damaged nuclear power plant is located.
One of the Japanese visitors, Oku Shigeharu, who is chairman of Japan Southwest Islands Security Institute, said that depending on the results of further study of Pagan, the investors are interested in mining all pozzolan deposits on the island for a period of 10 to 15 years. He said they do not plan to lease the whole island but only about 2000 hectares of it, including the pozzolan mining area and a site where tsunami debris will be 'disposed of and recycled.' The investors were also keen to highlight that the CNMI will generate revenue from the multimillion-dollar land lease, from royalty fees as a result of pozzolan mining and through securing new jobs for local residents. "In my personal opinion, maybe pozzolan (mining) can help save the CNMI economy," said Shigeharu."There's at least 100Mt of pozzolan on Pagan," said Pagan (CNMI) Development Corp. chair Juan Demapan, citing a previous study.
The delegation said that it would return to CNMI in three weeks, bringing with them engineers, scientists and other experts to further study and assess Pagan.
US: Stronger than expected job creation and the beginning of a construction industry recovery mean gains in real construction spending will materialise in 2012, according to a new forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA). The PCA says that increases in cement consumption will follow.
The PCA revised its autumn forecast upward, anticipating a modest 3.7% increase in cement consumption in 2012, followed by a 7.6% jump in 2013 and a 14.1% increase in 2014. The forecast includes marginal improvements to non-residential construction, an upward revision to housing starts and an aggressive cement intensity gain, which is the amount of cement used per dollar of construction activity.
"Cement usage is greatest at the early stages of construction with foundation work. The retreat of building starts during the recession had a huge impact on consumption and intensity," said Ed Sullivan, chief economist at the PCA. "A construction start rebound in 2012 coupled with concrete's competitive price compared to other building materials translates to increases."
Sullivan said that, with successive years of economic and employment growth, the structural issues facing the construction industry will diminish. For example, the adverse impact of foreclosures will fade and return on investment for non-residential investments will improve.
The PCA forecasts that all sectors of construction will be positive during 2014-2015, which typically results in large gains in cement consumption.
Russia: The leading Russian cement producer Eurocement has placed an order worth more than Euro80m with KHD for a new cement plant to be built in Stavropol, Russia.
The contract between Stavropolsky Zavod Stroitelnih Materialov, a member of the Eurocement Group, and ZAB Zementanlagenbau GmbH Dessau, a subsidiary of KHD Humboldt Wedag International AG, is for a new cement plant with an annual output of 1.3Mt/yr.
KHD's scope will cover the supply of production equipment, starting from raw material crushing all the way up to cement loading and packing. KHD will also supply automation and control equipment for the new production line. In addition, the companies concluded a separate contract for erection and commissioning supervision services, which is part of the total order volume.
The project will be booked as order intake immediately upon receipt of a down payment.
Portugal: Portugal's Treasury Secretary Maria Luis Albuquerque has defended the takeover bid by Brazil's Camargo Corrêa for Portuguese cement maker Cimpor from suggestions that it was against Portuguese national interests and that the price offered by Camargo Corrêa was too low.
"This operation appears to us the best alternative for the company," said Albuquerque, speaking to a parliamentary committee. "It safeguards the national interests in the most attractive form that is possible to secure." Opposition Socialists had demanded that the government answer questions on the takeover.
Camargo Corrêa, Brazil's second-largest construction group, launched a Euro5.5/share takeover bid at the end of March 2012 for the 67.1% of Cimpor that it does not already own. Cimpor's board has said the bid is too low and lacks detail on its plans for the company's future.
Two key Cimpor shareholders, including the state-run bank CGD, have already said they are prepared to sell their stakes under Camargo Corrêa's terms and many analysts expect the bid to succeed. Along with other Portuguese banks, CGD is under pressure to improve its capital position under the terms of a Euro78bn EU/IMF bailout for Portugal.
Albuquerque said that Camargo Corrêa's bid would make Cimpor's shareholder structure more stable, preserve the company's listing in Lisbon and 'bring liquidity advantages to the national economy, allowing Cimpor to refinance its debt."
Oman: Cement sector players in Oman are scaling up their production capacity to meet the ever-rising local demand and also from export markets such as Yemen and various East African nations. Until recently, the Omani cement manufacturers were ‘victims’ of a cheap influx of cement from the UAE.
In 2011, imports met 25% of cement demand in Oman, mainly from the UAE where the weak construction sector had resulted in a excess of cement. Now with rising operational costs, producers in the UAE are no longer in a position to offer cement at lower prices, boosting the prospects of Omani producers.
In the first quarter of 2012 Oman Cement has seen its cement sales increase by 13.8% on a year-on-year basis, driven by lower prices and an increase in domestic construction activity.
Meanwhile, Raysut Cement group's net profit before tax soared by 37% to US$17.7m in the first three months of 2012, from US$12.9m in the same period of 2011. The profit before tax of Raysut Cement Company (RCC) soared by 26% to US$14.5m, from US$11.6m during the same periods. The group as a whole sold 0.06Mt of clinker and 1Mt of cement during the quarter that ended on 31 March 2012 against 0.03Mt and 0.83Mt respectively in the same period of 2011.
Raysut attributed its increase in profit to higher sales volume and better price realisation in spite of competition, both in the domestic and in the export markets. Construction activity in Oman is expected to continue its upswing during the current year.
Ukraine: HeidelbergCement incurred losses of Euro6.7m in the first quarter of 2012, according to a company report. The loss is nearly three times the amount that the company lost in the whole of 2011, when it lost Euro2.3m. HeidelbergCement Ukraine reported a net revenue of Euro14.2m for the first quarter of 2012.
UK: The UK Competition Commission (CC) has announced that Anglo American plc (via UK subsidiary Tarmac) and Lafarge will have to sell a significant portfolio of operations, paving the way for entry by a new competitor into the UK cement market, before their proposed construction materials joint venture can go ahead.
In February 2012, the CC provisionally ruled that the proposed joint venture between Anglo American and Lafarge could damage competition in certain markets for construction materials. In its final report, the CC has reiterated its concern that the joint venture would increase the danger of coordination in the market for bulk cement and would reduce competition in local and national markets for other products including aggregates, asphalt and ready-mix concrete.
Anglo American and Lafarge will now be required to sell an extensive package of operations including:
• Lafarge's cement plant in Hope, Derbyshire as well as the nearby Dowlow quarry and three linked rail depots.
• A substantial network of readymix concrete plants, representing well over half of the proposed joint venture's readymix concrete capacity.
• Six aggregate quarries as well as Tarmac's share of two quarries owned through its Midlands Quarry Products joint venture with Hanson and one rail
• Two asphalt plants as well as Tarmac's share of five plants owned through Midlands Quarry Products joint venture.
The CC further stated that the sale would have to be completed before the joint venture would be allowed to proceed.
Denmark: FLSmidth has signed a contract worth approximately Euro85m with a company in the Middle East to supply a complete 6000t/day cement production line. The country and precise location of the plant were not announced.
The contract comprises complete equipment supplies and includes a combined limestone and clay crusher, a gypsum crusher, a circular stacker and reclaimer store, a stacker and side scraper store for additives, an ATOX vertical raw mill, a CF silo, a double-string preheater tower, a ROTAX kiln, an FLSmidth Cross-Bar cooler, an OK mill and equipment for the packing and dispatch of cement. FLSmidth will also supply automation equipment.
"FLSmidth has a long history in the Middle East and is maintaining its leading role in serving the rapidly-expanding cement market," said Group CEO Jørgen Huno Rasmussen. "The growing economy and increasing infrastructure investment in the region continue to offer opportunities. This project confirms that the slowdown from the 'Arab Spring' is lifting."
The company added that the cement plant would feature state-of-the-art equipment including the latest technology to ensure an environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient production process.