Displaying items by tag: PPC
In early 2014 the top of the global cement producer charts looked very different to how it does today. The big four multinationals, Lafarge, Holcim, HeidelbergCement and Cemex, were clearly out in front and ahead of the rest of the global top 10. While there was discrepancy in their sizes, the largest, Lafarge (224Mt/yr) had just over twice the cement capacity of fourth-placed Cemex (95Mt/yr), with Holcim (218Mt/yr) and HeidelbergCement (122Mt/yr) between these extremes.1 With an impressive 659Mt/yr of capacity between them, these four accounted for just shy of half of global cement capacity outside of China.
However, as those with even a passing interest in the cement sector will know, this is no longer the case. The merger between Lafarge and Holcim and the subsequent acquisition of Italcementi by HeidelbergCement has stretched out the range of the top producers significantly. Today LafargeHolcim has around 340Mt/yr of installed capacity and HeidelbergCement 200Mt/yr. Meanwhile Cemex is still 'stuck in the 90s,' with a capacity of around 92Mt/yr following the sale of its Croatian cement assets last week. The Mexican 'giant' is now almost a quarter of the size of LafargeHolcim. What does this mean for the world's number three (excluding Chinese producers) and what might the future hold?
Well... the old adage goes that you have to move forward to stand still. However, Cemex has not moved forward over the past two years, meaning that is hasn't kept up the pace with its immediate rivals. It hasn't been able to, hemmed in by the debt that it took on from its poorly-timed acquisition of Rinker in 2007. Indeed, Cemex is looking to contract further, with aims to shed a further Euro600 - 1100m of non-core assets in 2015.2 Against improved positions at LafargeHolcim and HeidelbergCement, Cemex increasingly looks like an 'Americas specialist' rather than a full-blown multinational. A stake in Cemex LatAm Holdings is up for sale, but the sale of more cement plants may also be on the way. This is all being done to improve Cemex's investment grade rating from B-plus, four grades below investment grade.
If Cemex does have to shed further physical assets on the ground, it is very unlikely that it would chose to do so in the Americas, where it is a very major player. It is number one in Mexico, third in the US and well-postitioned in numerous growth markets in Central America. If push comes to shove, it is far more likely that it would sell assets that are further from home. These are in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.
Cemex has 43% of its production capacity outside the Americas. Certain assets, such as those in Thailand, Bangladesh and the Philippines, may be appealing to CRH, which is already set to acquire LafargeHolcim divestments there and is known to be considering other purchases in the region.3 Cemex also owns several cement plants in better-performing EU economies like Germany and the UK. In Germany, the company has already completed a small downsizing exercise by selling its Kollenbach plant to Holcim (LafargeHolcim). Meanwhile, Cemex UK is a major player in the UK, where the Competition Commission has recently been very keen to increase the number of producers. Elsewhere, Cemex's share in Assuit Cement in Egypt could provide much needed revenue, as could its small stake in the Emirati markets.
Thinking more radically, and in keeping with the current trend of mega-mergers and large-scale acquisitions, could Cemex find itself the target of the next global cement mega-merger / acquisition? Certainly, its strength in Central and South America completely complements HeidelbergCement's lack of coverage here, making a future 'HeidelbergCemex' a potential winner.
The other option, if/when Cemex regains its investment rating, would be for Cemex to acquire or merge with a company further down the list of global cement produers. Africa is an obvious target, with rapid growth and a lack of Cemex assets at present. A foreigner buying up Dangote is probably out of the question, but PPC would be an interesting target, as would increasingly isolated Brazilian producers that could help shore up Cemex's South American position.
If the past 18 months in the global cement industry have shown anything, it is that we should expect the unexpected. It will be very interesting to see how all players, both large and small, will react to the recent goings on in the rest of 2015 and beyond.
1. 1. Saunders A.; 'Top 75 Cement Producers,' in Global Cement Magazine – December 2013. Epsom, UK, December 2013.
1. 2. Reuters website, 'Mexico's Cemex could sell part of business to pay down debt: CEO,' 10 February 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/11/us-mexico-cemex-idUSKBN0LF05320150211.
1. 3. Global Cement website, 'CRH investment spend set to pass Euro7bn with South Korea cement deal,' 12 June 2015, http://www.globalcement.com/news/item/3721-crh-investment-spend-set-to-pass-euro7bn-with-south-korea-cement-deal.
Zimbabwe: PPC is on track to commission its second cement plant in Zimbabwe in the second half of 2016. It is building its new 700,000t/yr plant at Msasa near Harare at a cost of US$80m. The plant is being built by China's Sinoma International Engineering.
PPC aims to generate 40% of its total revenue from outside South Africa by 2017, compared with about 28% now. Including its second Zimbabwe plant, PPC has four cement manufacturing plant projects in Africa. The other projects are in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
Njombo Lekula, the managing director of PPC, said that the investment PPC was making in the Msasa plant was a vote of confidence in Zimbabwe's future and an expression of its commitment to build, grow and contribute meaningfully to the national economy while delivering on local imperative. "PPC Zimbabwe is looking to the future of the country, with today's event providing a promise of things to come. While our existing plant in Bulawayo has positioned us well in Matabeleland, it's clear that much of our country's future growth centres around Harare and northern Zimbabwe," said Lekula.
PPC is engaging with numerous local suppliers to leverage the scope of opportunities on this project beyond the main engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) agreement. "Because almost 70% of the total value of the EPCM is allocated to the supply of actual plant equipment, it was necessary for us to contract with a provider of the likes of Sinoma to ensure we create a world class plant in and for the region. Sinoma has contracted local labour as part of its workforce on the project, as well as meeting our non negotiable local supply requirements," said Lekula. He added that local contractors, including JR Goddard Construction, Ascon-Tencraft and HVC, had already worked on the project.
"As Zimbabwe's largest producer of ordinary Portland cement and the only producer of 42.5 cement, we are ideally positioned to play a leading role in developing the country's infrastructure. We have the equipment, processes and tanker fleet in place and are thus able to handle the bulk deliveries that are vital to these big projects. As such, we see ourselves as providing not just cement but a total solution to our customers," said Lekula.
Zimbabwe: PPC is under fire from local construction companies that have accused it of sidelining them in the construction of a new cement plant in Ruwa in favour of foreign companies, as reported by All Africa.
According to 'inside sources,' local companies submitted bids, but these were rejected due to a directive from the cement company's head office to sideline local companies and renegotiate a new contract with the main contractor, China's Sinoma International Engineering. The Chinese company was already undertaking construction works at the cement plant. Sources have said that since the beginning of construction, no projects have been awarded to local firms, which claim to have the same technical ability and expertise as the foreign companies.
"PPC is constructing a cement plant in Ruwa and is using only Chinese contractors to build the plant at the expense of local construction companies with the same capacity. Local companies submitted bids and none of them got a contract," said one unnamed source.
Another source said that a Chinese workforce drove the whole construction project being executed by Sinoma, which was against the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio- Economic Transformation Agenda's goal of creating jobs. "A number of local indigenous companies have tendered for various technical expertise, but none of them have been recognised. We believe that in order to empower local companies, there should be joint ventures between the foreign companies and locals to get a win-win scenario," said the source.
PPC managing director Njombo Lekula said that the company had engaged Sinoma on an engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) arrangement. He said that the EPCM was a common form of contracting arrangement for very large projects within the infrastructure, mining, resources and energy industries. "We engaged the Chinese in an EPCM arrangement and the contractor is the one that knows how to execute the project. Right now, Sinoma employs 60 locals, which I think is a large number. Due to the arrangement it is obvious that the contractor will provide for all the materials required, but we told them that we need a quarter of local supply as well. The claims are baseless considering that we contracted also JR Goddard construction to do our road and sewer reticulation works for US$700,000. So to say we are sidelining locals is unfounded," said Lekula. He added that the company would continue to empower local companies and suppliers. For example, an indigenous company has been awarded a contract to do all of the rail infrastructure at the plant at a contract value of about US$3m.
PPC expects to complete the construction of its 1Mt/yr capacity cement plant in the first half of 2016 with an investment of about US$86m having been made towards the project so far. The project would cost a total of US$200m after completion, with the investment package set to aid the setting up of another plant in Mashonaland Central. PPC is also building a separate grinding facility in Mozambique's Tete Province.
Zimbabwe: According to Southern Eye, PPC Zimbabwe's cement exports in the first half of its 2015 fiscal year, which ended on 31 March 2015, took a knock due to the weakening of the South African Rand against the US Dollar.
PPC said that exports from its Zimbabwe operations accounted for only 10% of cement sales volumes, although local sales were encouraging. It said that cement volumes in Zimbabwe grew by 9% in the first half of its 2015 fiscal year due to new marketing strategies implemented during the period.
PPC Zimbabwe's managing director Njombo Lekula confirmed that exports had fallen. "In terms of business, we are doing fairly very well, but there has been a bit of a slowdown from last year. However, performance internally in the country is still very good and that is something we can be happy with," said Lekula. "Obviously, on exports it wasn't great, partly because of the strengthening of the US Dollar and capacity in other surrounding areas. To export has been a bit difficult this year. Looking forward, we think the second half of the year will be very good as usual. We normally do very well in the last three months of our financial year, which ends in September 2015. I'm quite happy with the PPC Zimbabwe performance at this point in time."
PPC Zimbabwe is constructing a US$75m, 680,000t/yr capacity cement plant in Harare. The plant is expected to start production in the middle of 2016. The group recently unveiled an adjustment to its brand name for Zimbabwe and is now trading as PPC Zimbabwe.
South Africa: PPC has reported that in the six months that ended on 31 March 2015, its profit fell by 38% year-on-year, hurt by slack demand at its mainstay home market. However, its revenue rose by 9% to US$379m during the period.
South African building firms are struggling with weak demand as the government delays rolling out its US$84bn infrastructure investment package. In response, PPC has set its sights on the rest of Africa. It is building plants in African countries like Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a wider plan to generate 40% of its sales outside its home market by 2017.
South Africa: PPC will slow its international expansion due to rising debts, says chief executive officer Darryll Castle. The South African cement producer is building cement plants in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Algeria and Mozambique in order to generate 40% of its sales outside its home market by 2017. However, spending on these projects is pushing up its debt levels and Chief Executive Officer Darryll Castle said PPC's debt would likely hit as much as US$982m in the next two years and possibly breach agreed covenants with banks, according to Reuters.
"We wouldn't want to stretch our balance too much. The focus currently is on existing projects," said Castle. He added that PPC was in talks with banks about changing the agreed debt covenants to reflect the fact that some of the debt was ring-fenced from the South African balance sheet.
Algeria: The construction works of an Algerian-South African cement plant with a capacity of 2.2Mt/yr will begin shortly, according to Abdelkrim Mansouri, Director General of the Algerian National Development Agency for Investment (NDAI). "All administrative procedures have now been finalised and the initiators of this project will start the work of constructing the plant shortly," he said.
This project is the result of a partnership between Hodna Algerian Cement Company and leading South African cement producer PPC, concluded in accordance with rules that stipulate a maximum 49% ownership by foreign firms in Algerian-based investments. At a total cost of US$287m, the plant will be 80% financed by Algerian banks and 20% financed by the two joint venture partners.
The other big cement producer merger collapsed this week when PPC announced that it had terminated discussions with AfriSam. Details were scant due to a confidentiality agreement between the South African cement producers. However, the CEO of PPC, Darryll Castle, confirmed that neither party could agree the terms of the merger. PPC's shares rose by 5% on the news of the breakdown.
Financially the decision may have made sense. As an unlisted company AfriSam doesn't publish its financial results but PPC did report a revenue of US$742m in 2014. Comparing cement production capacity in South Africa gives PPC 4.75Mt/yr and Afrisam 3.50Mt/yr. Roughly this is a 58:42 split although this doesn't take into account both companies' aggregates, ready-mix concrete and other product concerns.
It's possible that disagreements over the value of the two companies caused the breakdown. At the time the merger was first proposed in December 2014 PPC was reeling from the resignation of its CEO Ketso Gordhan in September 2014. Some media commentators viewed the proposal as opportunistic on the part of AfriSam given all the internal problems PPC was coping with. Also, given that the combined companies would have held a 60% share of the market, it is likely that the Competition Commission of South Africa would have taken a keen interest.
The uneven ratio of sizes between the two companies considering merging is similar to the problems now facing Lafarge and Holcim. The European building materials companies started out trumpeting their merger of equals before Lafarge's relative poor financial performance and fluctuating currencies made a mockery of this parity. Once this became clear then major shareholders in Holcim started to question the merger.
Back to Africa, the question with PPC and AfriSam is whether they should have swallowed their differences in view of future growth. With Dangote expanding across the continent and Lafarge consolidating its local activity under the Lafarge Africa banner it seems like the time to merge resources and expand.
AfriSam has been saddled with debt since a buyout in 2007 when Holcim reduced its share from 85% to 15%. In 2011 it agreed to pay a penalty of US$16m, representing 3% of its 2010 cement annual turnover in the Southern African Customs Union, due to cartel activity. Then in 2013 investment holding company Pembani Group reduced AfriSam's debt for shares and a controlling say on its board. By contrast PPC has been expanding across Africa, in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Algeria and Mozambique, to boost foreign sales to 40% by 2017. The programme is anticipated to raise PPC's cement production capacity from 8Mt/yr to 12Mt/yr.
Domination at home in South Africa and firm plans for continental expansion suggest that this deal wasn't in PPC's interest, although its domestic cement sales have declined which may have also made the case for consolidation more tempting. Dangote's progress in west African must be both inspiring and troubling for South African cement producers.
South Africa: PPC and AfriSam have called off a merger of two of South Africa's largest cement producers after failing to agree on the price.
The possibility that regulators may have blocked the proposed deal due to competition concerns was also discussed during the three months of talks, as the two companies would have controlled about 60% of the South African market. PPC spokeswoman Azola Lowan declined to comment on the reasons for the deal collapse.
PPC received an offer in December 2014 to combine with AfriSam and jointly expand into new African markets. "Over the last few months, we applied our minds extensively to the proposed merger with AfriSam," said PPC CEO Darryll Castle, who was appointed in December 2014. "Ultimately we decided not to proceed with the proposed deal."
South Africa: The board of PPC are considering an indicative non-binding proposal from AfriSam Group for a merger between the two cement producing companies. PPC will make a further announcement once its board had concluded the consideration process, according to Pretoria News. The Public Investment Corporation, the managers of the Government Employees Pension Fund, holds a 12.6% share of PPC and a 66% share of AfriSam.