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Written by Global Cement staff
06 April 2016
Germany/Italy: HeidelbergCement has released details on how it will integrate Italcementi into its business. Key details of the plan include the sale of Italcementi’s Belgium operations, the retention of the Italcementi brand and headquarters and the Italian cement producer’s i.Lab centre will assume research and development responsibilities for the entire group. However the acquisition is expected to result in up to 260 job losses at Italcementi’s base in Bergamo. The full integration plan is expected to be complete by 2020.
“Following our motto ‘all business is local’, it is important for us to preserve Italcementi's strengths and professional expertise, which have ensured its success in Italy and abroad. I am convinced that we will be able to achieve the planned Euro400m in synergies and bring Italcementi back to profits by operational improvements, streamlining the administration and leveraging the increased size of our combined business,” said Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the managing board of HeidelbergCement.
The acquisition still depends on approval from the European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. On 1 April 2016, HeidelbergCement formally submitted the merger plan to the European Commission.
To this end, HeidelbergCement has decided to sell Italcementi’s entire Belgian operations, primarily consisting of Italcementi’s Belgian subsidiary Compagnie des Ciments Belges. The proposed divestment would remove all overlaps between the activities of HeidelbergCement and Italcementi in Belgium and the Netherlands. Preparations forthe divestment have already started and ‘significant’ interest has been noted. BNP Paribas will support the process.
The plan presented in Bergamo by Scheifele says it intends to keep the industrial network and plants in Italy as well as the Italcementi brand. In addition, HeidelbergCement builds on Italian management heading the Group's operations in Italy. i.Lab, based in Bergamo, where Italcementi will keep the headquarter of Italian country organisation, will become the home of the product research and development division of the whole group.
In order to streamline the overall group organisation some staff and administrative functions will be centralised in Heidelberg. According to the integration plan around 170 people will receive relocation offers to other offices within the group. Any redundancies in Bergamo, which could potentially affect between 230 and 260 people, will be handled using Italy's temporary layoff scheme. In addition, severence packages will be negotiated with the unions. At the end of the transition period in 2020, about 210 to 250 professionals will remain in Bergamo.
HeidelbergCement expects the closing of the acquisition of the 45% stake to be finalised in early July 2016 depending on the decision of the cartel authorities in Europe and the USA. Implementation of the integration plan will start after the closing.
South Africa: PPC has appointed Peter Nelson as its interim chairman following the retirement of Bheki Sibiya. A permanent replacement for Sibiya is expected to be recruited by September 2016.
Nelson was appointed to the Board as an independent non-executive director on 25 January 2015. His experience covers manufacturing, mining, telecommunications, healthcare, leisure, property, packaging and the motor industry in listed and private entities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. He has served as chief financial officer on several Boards including Telkom, Netcare and Mondi.
Written by Global Cement staff
06 April 2016
Austria: A TEC Group has appointed Wolfgang Hammer as its new managing director. The former Global Sales Manager at the company replaces Hans Joachim Grieb who retired on 31 March 2016. Stefan Kern has been appointed his deputy. He is responsible for the markets Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and South Africa. These appointments are effective from 1 April 2016.
Tata Steel put up its UK business for sale last week. The Indian multinational declared that enough was enough having reported losses of over Euro2.5bn in the territory over five years. Non-UK readers may well wonder what the fuss is about. UK crude steel production comprised 10.9Mt in 2015 or about 0.7% of global production according to World Steel Association data according to World Steel Association data. By contrast the country produced 9.3Mt of cement in 2014 or about 0.2% of world production according to CEMBUREAU data according to CEMBUREAU data.
The UK’s flailing steel industry is worth discussing here for two reasons. Firstly, any decline in the local iron and steel industry will have implications for the supplementary cementitious materials (SCM) market as slag levels vary. Secondly, the cement industry in Europe may have lessons for a fellow heavy industry facing capacity rationalisation.
UK ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS) production levels are low compared to total world supply. However, the UK Competition Commission certainly took note of the GGBS market in 2014. It was worried by LafargeTarmac’s and Hanson’s prominence in both the local GGBS supply chain and local cement production. At that time it ordered the HeidelbergCement subsidiary Hanson to sell one of its slag grinding plants to increase competition in the supply chain for GGBS. A GGBS plant in Scunthorpe was eventually sold to Francis Flowers in July 2015.
The general point here is that a Tata sale of its UK operations could have ramifications for the UK GGBS sector as existing deals are renegotiated following the shakeup. It would be even worse for the local slag market if any of the plants closed. No doubt the Competition Commission would also want to have its say to maintain some sort of competition in an already concentrated market. The UK cement market has been the bright spot in the multinational cement producers’ European regions in 2015. However, construction growth is starting to slow again with hints that the looming European Referendum in June 2016 may be having a negative effect. Uncertainty over GGBS supplies is not helpful in this atmosphere.
A wider lesson for other national cement industries looking in is that if Chinese steel continues flood the world market it will also hit the cement industry. Tata’s woes have been squarely blamed on China dumping its steel on the world market. Various jurisdictions promote the use of SCM cements and concrete for their low-carbon and sustainability properties. If local or existing GGBS supplies are hit then the cement industries may be penalised while the lawmakers and competition bodies play catch-up.
The wider point about heavy industry reducing its production capacity is one that the European cement industry will be well used to. Spain, for example, has seen its cement production drop from 55Mt in 2007 to 15Mt in 2014 according to Oficemen data. Alongside this, demand for cement has dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s. The European response has been to shut plants, sell assets and to merge companies.
The big question following the 2008 recession is whether ‘this’ is the new normal for mature construction markets. Eight years later global interest rates are still lagging and China’s economy is slowing down. All of the European infrastructure was built long ago meaning that steel and cement will only be required to maintain it. Luckily it looks likely that demand for SCMs should stay buoyant as industries are encouraged to decarbonise. The problem though is where the slag comes from. Oversupply in the short term in areas like Europe might be great for cement producers but as the iron and steel industries readjust to market reality there might be a hangover in store.
Written by Global Cement staff
05 April 2016
Indonesia: Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa has purchased stakes in marine transport services firm Lintas Bahana Abadi through the company's subsidiaries, Bahana Indonor and Indomix Perkasa. The acquisition is expected to support Indocement's business activities, particularly in the marine transport segment, according to Indonesia Finance Daily.
“Bangun Sukses Niagatama Nusantara will divest its shares in Lintas Bahana Abadi to Bahana Indonor and Indomix Perkasa for US$2.1m. The acquisition is fully funded from the two subsidiaries' internal cash,” said Christian Kartawijaya, President Director of Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa. Lintas Bahana will become a subsidiary that is indirectly owned by Indocement.