Displaying items by tag: Italcementi
Germany: HeidelbergCement’s sale revenue, volumes and profits have all been boosted by its acquisition of Italcementi in 2016. Preliminary figures for the group show that its revenue rose by 13% year-on-year to Euro15.2bn in 2016 from Euro13.5bn in 2015. Its cement sales volumes rose by 28% to 104Mt from 81.1Mt and its operating income rose by 7% to Euro2bn from Euro1.85bn. The group said that 2016 had been its best year since the financial crisis in 2008. However, on a pro-forma basis, taking into account the contributions of Italcementi in 2015 and 2016, the group’s sales revenue fell slightly and cement sales volumes and operating income rose far less steeply.
“The year 2016 was an important milestone for HeidelbergCement,” said Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the managing board. “With the acquisition of Italcementi, we made a big leap in growth and achieved the best operating income since the financial crisis. The integration of Italcementi is well under way and offers significant earnings potential resulting from the implementation of identified synergies.”
By region, HeidelbergCement’s Western and Southern Europe division reported rising sales volumes of cement but falling revenue and operating income. Improving markets in Germany and the UK were offset by weak demand in Italy, France and Spain and the falling value of the British Pound versus the Euro. By contrast revenue, cement volumes and operating income were all up in the Northern and Eastern Europe-Central Asia area with a particular emphasis in Norway. Notably, demand growth was also reported in Russia driven by markets in Moscow and St Petersburg. In North America financial figures rose in 2016 but revenue fell in the last quarter of the year. Strong sales were recorded in the north and south of the US but a drop in sale volumes was noted in the Canadian Prairie provinces due to falling oil production. In the group’s Asia area sales volumes rose but revenue and operating income fell in 2016 due to a ‘significant’ fall in prices in Indonesia and Thailand. Finally, in the Africa-Eastern Mediterranean Basin the market picture was mixed with small increases in sales volumes, a drop in sales revenue and a slight increase in operating income due to increased market competition in Sub-Saharan countries.
Last week’s Global CemFuels Conference in Barcelona raised a considerable amount of information about the state of the alternative fuels market for the cement industry and recent technical advances. One particular facet that stuck out were reports from cement and waste producers, from their perspective, about Morocco’s decision to ban imports of waste from Italy in mid-2016. The debacle raises prickly questions about how decisive attempts to reduce carbon emissions can be.
Public outcry broke out in Morocco in July 2016 over imports of refuse derived fuel (RDF) imported from Italy for use at a cement plant in the country. At the time a ship carrying 2500t of RDF was stopped at the Jorf Lasfar port. Local media and activists presented the shipment in terms of a dangerous waste, ‘too toxic’ for a European country, which was being dumped on a developing one. Public outcry followed and despite attempts to calm the situation the government soon banned imports of ‘waste’.
What wasn’t much reported at the time was that RDF usage rates in Europe have been rising in recent years and that the product is viewed as a commodity. As Michele Graffigna from HeidelbergCement explained at the conference in his presentation, its subsidiary Italcementi runs seven cement plants in Italy but only two of them have the permits to use alternative fuels like RDF. Italy also has amongst the lowest rates of alternative fuels usage in Europe, in part due to issues with legislation. This is changing slowly but the company has an export strategy for waste fuels from the country at the moment. Italy’s largest cement producer wants to use waste fuels in Italy but it can’t fully, so it is exporting them so it (and others) is exporting them to countries where it can.
In the Waste Hierarchy, using waste as energy fits in the ‘other recovery’ section near the bottom of the inverted pyramid, but it is still preferable to disposal. Waste fuels may be smelly, unsightly and have other concerns but they are a better environmental option than burning fossil fuels. HeidelbergCement engaged locally with media and local authorities to try and convey this. It also arranged visits to RDF production sites in Italy and German cement plant that use RDF to present its message. Looking to the future, HeidelbergCement now plans to focus on local waste production in Morocco with projects for a tyre shredder at a cement plant and an RDF production site at a Marrakesh landfill site in the pipeline. Graffigna didn’t say so directly, but the decision to focus on local waste supplies clearly dispenses with historical and cultural baggage of moving ‘dirty’ products between countries.
In another talk, at the conference Andy Hill of Suez then mentioned the Morocco situation from his company’s angle. His point was that moving waste fuels around can carry risks and that a waste management company, like Suez, knows how to handle them. It is worth pointing out here that Suez UK has supplied solid recovered fuel (SRF) to the country so it has a commercial interest here. He also suggested that despatching a bulk vessel of waste to a sensitive market did not help the situation and that it heightened negative publicity.
Morocco’s decision to ban the import of waste fuels in mid-2016 is an unfortunate speed bump along the highway to a more sustainable cement industry. It raises all sorts of issues about public perceptions of environmental efforts to clean up the cement industry and where they clash with commercially minded attempts to do so by the cement producers. A similar battle is playing out in Ireland between locals in Limerick and Irish Cement, as it tries to start burning tyres and RDF. These are not new issues. Meanwhile in the background the amendment to the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme draws close with a vote set for mid-February 2017. It could have implications for all of this depending on what happens. More on this later in the month.
HeidelbergCement buys Italcementi
Undeniably the big story of the year, HeidelbergCement has gradually acquired Italcementi throughout 2016. Notably, unlike the merger of Lafarge and Holcim, the cement producer has not held a party to mark the occasion. Instead each major step of the process has been reported upon incrementally in press releases and other sources throughout the year. The enlarged HeidelbergCement appears to be in a better market position than LafargeHolcim but it will be watched carefully in 2017 for signs of weakness.
LafargeHolcim faces accusations over conduct in Syria
The general theme for LafargeHolcim in 2016 has been one of divestments to shore up its balance sheet. However, one news story could potentially sum up its decline for the wider public. In June 2016 French newspaper Le Monde alleged that Lafarge had struck deals with armed groups in Syria, including so-called Islamic State (IS), to protect its assets in 2013 and 2014. LafargeHolcim didn’t deny the claims directly in June. Then in response to a legal challenge on the issue mounted in November 2016 its language tightened to statements condoning terrorism whilst still allowing some wriggle room. As almost all of the international groups in Syria are opposed to IS, should these allegations prove to be true it will not look good for the world’s largest cement producer.
China and India balance sector restructuring with production growth
Both China and India seem to have turned a corner in 2016 with growing cement production and a generally more upbeat feeling for the industries. Both have also seen some high profile consolidations or mergers underway which will hopefully cut inefficiencies. China’s focus on its ‘One Belt, One Road’ appears to be delivering foreign contracts as CBMI’s recent flurry of orders in Africa attests although Sinoma’s equipment arm was losing money in the first half of 2016. Meanwhile, India may have damaged its own growth in the short term through its demonetisation policy to take high value Indian rupee currency notes out of circulation. In November 2016 cement demand was believed to have dropped by up to half as the real estate sector struggled to adapt. The pain is anticipated to carry on until the end of March 2017.
US industry growth stuck in the slow lane
The US cement industry has failed to take off yet again in 2016 with growth lagging below 5%. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported that clinker production has risen by 1% in the first ten months of 2016 and that it fell in the third quarter of the year. In response, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) lowered its forecasts for both 2016 and 2017. One unknown here has been the election of President-elect Donald Trump and the uncertainty over what his policies might bring. If he ‘goes large,’ as he said he wants to, on infrastructure then the cement industry will benefit. Yet, knock-on effects from other potential policies like restricting migrant labour might have unpredictable consequences upon the general construction industry.
African expansion follows the money
International cement producers have prospered at the expense of local ones in 2016. The big shock this year was when Nigeria’s Dangote announced that it was scaling back its expansion plans in response to problems in Nigeria principally with the devaluation of the Naira. Since then it has also faced local problems in Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Its sub-Saharan competitor PPC has also had problems too. By contrast, foreign investors from outside the continent, led by China, have scented opportunity and opened their wallets.
Changes in store for the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme
A late entry to this roundup is the proposed amendment to the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This may entail the introduction of a Border Adjustment Measure (BAM) with the loss of free allowances for the cement sector in Phase IV. Cembureau, the European Cement Association, has slammed the changes as ‘discriminatory’ and raised concerns over how this would affect competitiveness. In opposition the environmental campaign group Sandbag has defended the changes as ones that could put a stop to the ‘cement sector’s windfall profits from the ETS.’
High growth shifts to Philippines and other territories
Indonesia may be lurching towards production overcapacity, but fear not, the Philippines have arrived on the scene to provide high double-digit growth on the back of the Duterte Infrastructure Plan. The Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP) has said that cement sales have risen by 10.1% year-on-year to 20.1Mt in the first three quarters of 2016 and lots of new plants and upgrade projects are underway. The other place drawing attention in the second half of the year has been Pakistan with cement sales jumping in response to projects being built by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Global Cement Weekly will return on 4 January 2016
US: HeidelbergCement has completed the sale of its Martinsburg, West Virginia cement plant and eight related terminals to Cementos Argos. With the finalisation of the sale the group has now met all the obligations with regards to its acquisition of Italcementi.
“With the disposal of the US assets we fulfil the obligation of the Federal Trade Commission and improve the net financial position of HeidelbergCement after the acquisition of Italcementi,” said Bernd Scheifele, chief executive officer of HeidelbergCement.
HeidelbergCement and Cementos Argos announced the sale in August 2016. The transaction purchase price was US$660m on a cash and debt-free basis. The FTC approved the agreement in November 2016.
Germany: HC Trading and Interbulk Trading have merged their operations to form HC Trading, following the acquisition of Italcementi by HeidelbergCement. The merger will continue the group’s international trading activities, specialising in cement, clinker, coal and petroleum-coke by expanding the trade network and improving its position in the market. The total turnover of the new trading company will be around US$1.4bn.
“We trust that, by having an enlarged geographic reach as well as an expanded product portfolio, we will be able to further enhance our efficiency to better serve the market and our business partners,” said Emir Adiguzel, the chief executive officer of HC Trading. He added that the group intends to use idle capacity from former Italcementi plants to meet demands from import facilities in Africa, North America and South East Asia.
Federal Trade Commission approves request by HeidelbergCement and Italcementi to sell Martinsburg cement plant16 November 2016
US: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved an application from HeidelbergCement and Italcementi to sell the Essroc cement plant in Martinsburg, West Virginia, eight cement terminals in the mid-Atlantic region and related assets to Argos USA, a subsidiary of Cementos Argos. The divestiture was required by the FTC’s August 2016 final order settling charges that the US$4.2bn merger of HeidelbergCement and Italcementi would be likely to harm competition in five regional markets for cement in the US. The Commission vote to approve the divestiture was 3-0.
Germany: HeidelbergCement has reported its first financial results following the completion of its takeover of Italcementi in mid-October 2016. Its revenue rose by 8% to Euro10.9bn in the first nine months of 2016 from Euro10.1bn in the same period in 2015. Its earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) rose by 1.7% to Euro1.40bn from Euro1.38bn. However, its profit fell by 3% to Euro738m from Euro763m. The boost in sales revenue was attributed to the integration of Italcementi into the group but the drop in profits was blamed on higher taxes in North America.
Cement sales volumes grew by 21% to 73Mt from 60.6Mt. Although, on a like-for-like basis, with adjustments consolidation effects, this was reported as 2.5%. Particular growth was reported in the Western and Southern Europe territory due to the influx of new assets from Italcementi. The group’s sales revenue from cement grew by 12% to Euro5.24bn from Euro4.66bn.
Italy: HeidelbergCement, the sole shareholder of Italcementi, has appointed a new board of directors its subsidiary at a shareholder meeting on 19 October 2016. The new members are Luca Sabelli as chairman, Dominik von Achten as executive vice president, Lorenz Näger as executive vice president and Roberto Callieri as chief executive officer.
On 12 October 2016, HeidelbergCement purchased the remaining Italcementi shares that had not been tendered in the mandatory tender offer. From this date HeidelbergCement became the sole shareholder of Italcementi and owns 100% of the share capital. Italcementi shares were delisted from the Italian Stock Exchange on the same day.
Belgium: HeidelbergCement has completed the sale of its operations in Belgium, primarily consisting of Italcementi’s subsidiary Compagnie des Ciments Belges (CCB) to an affiliate of Cementir Holding. The European Commission has approved the agreement.
“With the disposal of the Belgium assets we fulfill the obligation of the European Commission and improve the net financial position of HeidelbergCement after the acquisition of Italcementi,” said Bernd Scheifele, CEO of HeidelbergCement.
HeidelbergCement and Cementir Holding announced the sale on 25 July 2016. The transaction has an enterprise value of Euro312m on a cash and debt-free basis.
Italy: Italcementi will start temporary lay-offs for workers at its Scafa and Monselice cement plants when unemployment benefits end on 31 January 2017. The plans were announced at a meeting on 14 October 2016 following agreements signed in December 2015 at the Ministry of Labour by trade union representatives and Italcementi’s workers, according to the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper. The cement producer has confirmed that the on-going reorganisation at its plants are related to poor market conditions and not the acquisition of Italcementi by HeidelbergCement.