Displaying items by tag: Holcim
Spain: The National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) has issued total fines of Euro29.2m to 23 cement companies for involvement in a cartel between 1999 and 2014. Among the companies are Cementos Portland Valderrivas, with a Euro10.2m fine, Cemex Spain with a Euro5.8m fine and Holcim Spain, with a Euro4.4m fine, according to the Cinco Días newspaper.
The CNMC’s investigations have shown that the companies coordinated the exchange of commercial information, market sharing and price fixing between 1999 and 2014 in three distinct geographical areas in the north, centre and south of the country. Notably, the southern region examined the companies used email and WhatsApp mobile phone application to share sensitive information.
Russia: Filaret Galchev, the owner of Eurocement, expects that demand for cement in Russia will fall by 8% - 10% in 2016 after falling 12% in 2015. The cement producer will sell about 20Mt of cement in Russia and about 3.5Mt in other regions including Uzbekistan and Ukraine in 2016. He added that average production costs at the group will produce cement at around US$25/t.
In an interview with Rossiya 24 television reported upon by Interfax, Galchev also described Eurocement’s sale of its 6.1% stake in LafargeHolcim in February 2016 as ‘unexpected’. The Russian cement producer sold its share in LafargeHolcim after they lost nearly half of their value in six months.
"No, I did not expect it. We analysed the situation for a long time, but that is the decision that was made," said Galchev. He added that he had no issues with Sberbank, the Russian bank that restructured Eurocement’s debt after the sale of the shares in LafargeHolcim.
Originally Eurocement was a shareholder in Holcim and it received a stake in LafargeHolcim after that company was formed in a merger. The stake was subsequently transferred to Sberbank of Russia in January 2016 after the shares, which Galchev had acquired with financing from Bank of America, lost over 40% of their value in half a year. At the beginning of February 2016, Sberbank sold the 6.12% LafargeHolcim stake to investors from the UK, Switzerland, the US and other countries.
Europe: The European Court of Justice has annulled a request for information by the European Commission into several cement producers in a cartel probe. The judgement could restrict the competition watchdog's investigative powers, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal.
The commission opened an antitrust investigation in late 2010 looking at the activities of Cemex, Holcim, Lafarge, HeidelbergCement and others. Originally the cement companies were suspected by the commission of colluding with rivals to fix prices and share markets in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. However, the investigation was closed in mid-2015 due to insufficient evidence. Since then the cement producers have challenged the commission’s right to ask for the level of detail they requested. The ruling overturns a 2014 decision by the EU's General Court, which said the commission questionnaires were justified.
Brazil: The office of the Superintendent-general of the antitrust watchdog Cade has recommended a penalty with fines to Votorantim, Holcim and Cimento Tupi for a coordinated refusal to sell certain types of cement in São Paulo state. According to the office, these companies damaged free competition and made it hard for potential competitors to enter the market.
The office also said that there was not enough evidence against Cimentos Liz, Cibrasa, Ciplan, Cimpor, Itabira, Itaguassu, Itambe, Ibacip, Itapessoca, Itapicuru, Itapetinga, Itapicuru, Itapissuma, Itautinga, Intercement and Lafarge and that the administrative process should be dismissed. Cade's own tribunal will have the final decision on whether the cement firms will be fined or not.
New Zealand: Plans for the future use of Holcim's Westport cement plant after it closes are still unknown. Holcim plans to close its Westport plant in 2016 in favour of importing cement from Japan, resulting in 105 staff and contractors losing their jobs.
The company announced in September 2015 that the Westport plant might close at the end of May 2016 and plans were under way for the plant to be demolished and the quarry site rehabilitated. Holcim owned more than 500 hectares of land around Westport, including the Cape Foulwind cement plant and quarry, 11 houses at Cape Foulwind and a rail siding near Westport.
General Manager Ross Pickworth said that no decisions had been made on the future of the company's land and assets in Westport. "The focus is on looking after our people and the work that needs to be done before plant closure. Preparatory and planning work is being carried out with a focus mainly on the plant site, quarry and houses," said Pickworth.
The company was investigating what work was needed on the 11 houses occupied by staff near Westport so that they could be sold after the plant closed. The Buller District Council was looking for new businesses to occupy the plant site and make use of the town's port. The council owned the port and transporting Holcim's cement was its main source of income. Council Business Development Facilitator, John Hill, had been investigating turning the plant into an eco-park, which could include making energy from rubbish incineration or turning waste timber into diesel.
Pickworth said that demolition work was unlikely to commence until late 2016, so any potential users had, "Quite some time to register interest in the site and any equipment that may be of use."
The council had been trying to attract new industries to Buller to increase employment opportunities in the region. "Holcim is supporting this process by promoting its Cape Foulwind site to see if there is interest from other potential users of the site," said Pickworth. "An advisor has been appointed to assist Holcim with demolition planning and project management. The cost of demolition will depend on what buildings and assets may be left on site and tenders will be called for such work closer to the time."
Italy: Italy's antitrust authority has opened an investigation into four cement companies for alleged price fixing and, with the tax police, has searched the offices of the companies, according to Reuters. The companies under investigation are Buzzi Unicem, Cementir Italia, Industria Cementi Giovanni Rossi and Holcim Italia.
"The case concerns the possibility of an agreement to coordinate cement sales price increases," said the authority in a statement.
Holcim Italia, part of LafargeHolcim, confirmed the inspections. It said that the company had always acted according to the law and has 'policies and procedures in place that are designed to ensure compliance with principles and rules of fair competition prohibiting anti-competitive behaviour and the abuse of a dominant market position.' Buzzi said that it is confident that it will be able to demonstrate during the investigation that it had always acted in compliance with competition law.
US: An agreement has been reached to clean up the site of the former Holcim cement plant in Spokane Valley, Washington, where Holcim operated a cement factory until 1967. The site was then used for cement distribution for a number of years before shutting down. In 2006, storage silos were torn down, leaving behind cement kiln dust with contaminates including arsenic, lead and cadmium, as well as benzene and gasoline associated with train activity and fuel storage on the site. Neighbouring lots owned by the city of Spokane Valley and Neighborhood Inc were also contaminated.
Because the contamination was deemed a threat to human health, the Department of Ecology got involved in working out a clean-up plan. Jeremy Schmidt, Ecology's site manager, said that a consent decree has been signed by all parties and clean-up is scheduled for the summer and autumn 2016. "Work may be delayed for one year if we can't get contractors out there at the right time," said Schmidt. The work has to done when the groundwater level is low so as not to increase contamination. The kiln dust has now turned to cement and must be scraped off, piled in one place and capped with cement to stop contaminants from leaking into soil and groundwater.
Holcim still owns the site and both Schmidt and Spokane Valley Attorney Cary Driskell said that the company has been responsive and responsible. "They have been very easy to work with," said Driskell. He added that there was a range of options for the cleanup, with costs ranging from US$1.6 – 10m. "It will not cost Spokane Valley anything."
Malaysia: Lafarge Malaysia Bhd has bought Holcim Sdn Bhd from PT Holcim Indonesia in a deal worth US$71.2m.
"With this merger, our installed cement capacity will rise to 14.1Mt/yr from 12.9Mt/yr through the combined strength of three integrated cement plants, two grinding stations, over 40 ready-mix concrete batching plants and six aggregate quarries," said Lafarge in a statement. Lafarge Malaysia has now become part of LafargeHolcim.
Romania: Holcim Romania will announce its new Chief Executive Officer shortly, as its current CEO, French Francois Petry, was put in charge of Agreggates Industries, LafargeHolcim's operations in the UK, from 1 December 2015.
Petry has run Holcim Romania for almost two years. He took the helm of the company on 1 February 2014, after having run France's Aggregates division since 2008. Holcim Romania runs two cement plants, one grinding plant, 14 concrete stations, three aggregates stations, two special binders stations and one cement terminal. It employs around 800 people.
Netherlands: LyondellBasell, one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies, has appointed Thomas Aebischer, former CFO at Holcim, has been appointed as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) effective from 1 January 2016.
"Thomas is a highly experienced and accomplished leader who brings a global perspective, deep knowledge of financial markets and significant experience at the executive level of large, multinational companies. Given his past experience and success in a variety of financial positions all over the world, I am very confident that he will be a tremendous asset as we continue to execute our long-term growth strategy," said Bob Patel, LyondellBasell's Chief Executive Officer.
Aebischer joins LyondellBasell after having served in a variety of positions, including CFO, over a nearly 20-year career with Holcim. In his role as Holcim's CFO, Aebischer's responsibilities included the company's information technology, accounting and administration, investor relations, risk management and procurement functions. Earlier in his career, Aebischer held positions with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Bern cantonal tax authorities in Switzerland.
"LyondellBasell's transformation into one of the premier companies in the petrochemical industry is very impressive," said Aebischer. "It is truly an honour to join Bob and his team of leaders, who share a relentless focus on safety, operational excellence and the creation of shareholder value."
As LyondellBasell's CFO, Aebischer will be nominated to serve as a member of the company's management board and will be responsible for leading the company's treasury, information technology, tax, finance and accounting functions. Aebischer will report directly to Patel.