Displaying items by tag: PPC
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.
Zimbabwe: PPC Zimbabwe intends to invest US$75m in 2015 on its Harare cement mill to develop its export market. The mill will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2016 according to PPC Zimbabwe managing director Njombo Lekula. The cement producer is also spending US$6.4m on production upgrades at its Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn cement plants.
Lekula told local press that PPC Zimbabwe's export market had been cut by 40% due to the strengthening of the US dollar. However, he expected the export market to improve in the remainder of 2015.
South Africa: The Competition Commission of South Africa has referred Natal Portland Cement (NPC) to the Competition Tribunal. The referral follows the Commission's investigation, between 2008 and 2012, of collusive conduct in the cement cartel against the four main cement producers, NPC, Pretoria Portland Cement Company Limited (PPC), Lafarge Industries South Africa (Lafarge) and AfriSam Consortium (Pty) Ltd (AfriSam).
PPC was granted conditional leniency in terms of the corporate leniency policy of the Commission. AfriSam settled with the Commission and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of US$11.2m representing 3% of its annual turnover in 2010. Lafarge also settled with the Commission and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of US$13m representing 6% of its annual turnover in 2010.
The investigation found that the four cement producers agreed to collude and to divide the cement market by allocating market shares and indirectly fixing the price of cement during a legal cartel in South Africa that ended in 1996. The Competition Commission allege that they subsequently reinforced these collusive arrangements through a series of other agreements, which NPC's representatives were party to, including an agreement to progressively exchange competitively sensitive sales data through the Concrete and Cement Institute of South Africa.
The Commission is pursuing a maximum penalty of 10% of NPC's annual turnover and a Tribunal order that NPC contravened the Competition Act.
South Africa: The board of PPC has been newly-constituted following the company's annual general meeting. Shareholders have elected six new board members. From a reduced list of 10 nominees, shareholders elected former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, former PPC finance director Peter Nelson, Nicky Goldin, Timothy Leaf-Wright, former Afrisam CEO Charles Naude and Daniel Ufitikirezi. Ufitikirezi is chairperson of PPC's Rwandan business. The appointment of Darryll Castle as CEO was also approved by shareholders and Tryphosa Ramano retained her position as CFO.
South Africa: PPC has named a mining industry veteran as CEO, ending a three-month leadership vacuum that has hit its share price. Darryll Castle will take over as CEO from 12 January 2014. Castle previously worked as chief operating officer (COO) at base metal miner Metorex, which has since been acquired by China's Jinchuan Group. A chartered financial analyst, he has been CEO of Trafigura Mining Group and Anvil Mining. Castle's experience includes projects in Zambia, Angola and Tanzania.
Lafarge and Holcim merger
The year has been dominated by one story: the merger of the two largest European-based cement producers, Lafarge and Holcim. The implications are massive. At a stroke the new company can dispose of less profitable units, clear debts and benefit from new mega-economies of scale. As Europe emerges from the recession, LafargeHolcim will be ready. Worldwide it is a rebuff to the consolidating Chinese cement producers who are poised, if they wish, to emerge from China and dominate international markets. The process has appeared surprisingly smooth so far with considerable forward planning. This week the European Commission has approved the proposed merger.
Lafarge CEO Bruno Lafont described the deal as 'a merger of equals'. What he didn't say is that the merger will leave LafargeHolcim with no equal. However, one question remains. Once the merger is complete will the new company be profitable?
China heads abroad
State planners in Hebei Province revealed plans to move excess cement production capacity outside of China in their usual sparse style. The quiet tone of the announcement failed to match its intentions to move 30Mt of capacity abroad by 2023. It is the next step after becoming the world's biggest cement producer, capturing swathes of the equipment market and consolidating its many local producers. How Chinese cement producers will fare in the wider global market remains to be seen. Yet while its economy remains strong the gobbling up of European utilities by Chinese companies suggests that, if all else fails, money talks.
Coal for India
If you can't fire-up your kiln you can't make clinker. With Indian cement producers reporting falling profits in 2014 the squabbling over coal allocation in the country summed up some of the input cost and infrastructure problems facing the country's cement industry. The coal blocks are due to be auctioned off from January 2015. Meanwhile analysts predict that Indian cement demand is unlikely to grow until 2016.
Sub-Saharan scares and skirmishes
The creation of Lafarge Africa means that three producers are now in a skirmish in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lafarge, Dangote and PPC. All three companies are present in multiple countries and expanding fast. This week, for example, PPC announced proposed merger plans with AfriSam. Given the low cement consumption per capita in this region the benefits of getting in early are immense. Unfortunately, there are many speed bumps along this road to development. One is the on-going Ebola epidemic. Left unchecked it could cause untold economic damage.
ASEAN set to open up
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is set to drop import tariffs in 2015 as it establishes a common market. Already in preparation cement producers have started to change their strategies, thinking regionally instead of nationally. Holcim Philippines, for example, announced in February 2014 that it was considering delaying building a new plant as it analysed the situation. The region, including high-growth countries like Indonesia and Thailand, could see its cement industry go into overdrive. However, the benefits may not be uniform as countries like the Philippines may lose out.
The US, fracking and falling oil prices
Of the western economies recovering from the 2007 recession, the US cement industry has rebounded the fastest, due in part to fracking which has brought down the cost of energy. The Brent Crude price hit a low of US$60 per barrel this week and this has consequences for everybody in the cement industry as fuel procurement strategies adapt.
For starters, cement producers gain a fuel bill cut as the cost of fuels fall. Producers in Egypt who have been frenziedly converting kilns from gas to coal may suddenly find their margins improve. Low energy prices also take away financial motivation to co-process alternative fuels in cement kilns. Finally, what of the giant infrastructure projects in Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) like Saudi Arabia? Take away the petrodollars propping up these builds and cement demand may evaporate.
For more a more detailed look at trends in the cement industry check out the Global Cement Top 100 Report.
Global Cement Weekly will return on 7 January 2015. Enjoy the festive break!
South Africa: PPC, South Africa's largest lime and cement maker has said that AfriSam, its competitor, has proposed a merger between the two companies. AfriSam's proposal was conditional and non-binding and prompted PPC's shares to surge on 10 December 2014. This was reported by local media as a sign that the market likes the idea of the merger.
PPC said that its board of directors was currently considering the proposal and would make a further announcement in due course once it has concluded its consideration of the proposal. The firm has been in a state of flux in 2014 due to protracted boardroom wrangling.