Displaying items by tag: LafargeHolcim
Cameroon: Cimencam, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim via LafargeHolcim Maroc Afrique (LHMA), has announced that it will build a 0.5Mt/yr cement grinding plant at Nomayos, near Yaoundé with a budget of Euro42.6m. The plant will be the cement producer’s third in the country, according to the Échos Quotidien newspaper. Cement from the new plant will be sold locally as well as elsewhere in Central Africa. LHMA owns a 54.74% share in Cimencam.
Switzerland: LafargeHolcim and employee representatives in Europe have established a new European Works Council (EWC). The forum for consultation and dialogue at a transnational level will bring together worker representatives from 19 countries with senior leaders from LafargeHolcim.
“People are essential to the success of LafargeHolcim and our commitment to social dialogue through the new European Works Council is testament to this. During a period of transformation, we recognise that ensuring the full commitment, mobilisation, and engagement of our employees is a key building block for success,” said Eric Olsen, chief executive officer of LafargeHolcim.
The EWC was established based on an agreement signed by Olsen and Executive Committee members Caroline Luscombe, responsible for Organisation and Human Resources and Roland Köhler, responsible for Europe, Australia / New Zealand and Trading as well as Sam Hägglund, General Secretary of the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers EFBWW, among other management and employee representatives. Chaired by Köhler, the EWC replaces the previous European Works Councils. Countries represented in the EWC include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.
Zambia: Lafarge Zambia’s export volumes of cement and clinker rose by 53% year-on-year in 2016. Domestic sales volumes fell by 42%, its sales revenue fell by 43% to US$93,000 and its profit before tax dropped significantly to US$13,000. The cement producer added that power supply issues had adversely impacted production costs at its Chilanga and Ndola plants. The company is positive in its outlook for 2017 and it is supplying building materials to large infrastructure projects including the Kafue Gorge Lower and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
Philippines: Holcim Philippines posted higher sales despite increased competition in 2016. Its revenue grew by 7.5% to US$801m due to both higher volumes and prices. Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 14% to US$215m.
The company’s net income reached US$135m, which benefited from a one-time gain of US$52m from the revaluation of Holcim Philippines’ investment in an affiliate. Without the one-off item in 2015, profits were higher by 24% in 2016.
Holcim Philippines Chief Operating Officer Sapna Sood said, “Ensuring stable supply is critical in these times of high building activity. Last year, we demonstrated our commitment to keep the market supplied by raising our production capacity and leaning on our strong regional network. As a result, we showed our customers we are a reliable partner, which helped us compete, even with the entry of new players.”
Switzerland/US: French politicians have cautioned construction-materials giant LafargeHolcim about the consequences of supplying cement for the 3000km wall that US President Donald Trump intends to build along the border with Mexico.
LafargeHolcim, the biggest cement producer in both the world and the United States, fell under scrutiny after Chief Executive Eric Olsen said, in remarks published in several media outlets, that the company is ready to supply cement for the border wall.
Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said that companies such as LafargeHolcim must consider the ‘ethical aftermath’ of their business deals, after the Franco-Swiss firm said it stands ready to work on the project.
"Being a private company, whose headquarters are mainly in Switzerland, does not free it from having an ethical conscience and asking questions before participating in certain projects," Macron told Agence-France Presse. LafargeHolcim is already under attack in France for Lafarge’s handling of its Syrian operations during the spread of ISIS in the region.
The world's second biggest cement producer, Mexican firm Cemex SAB, is also facing pressure at home to boycott the wall. The Mexican government has been a staunch opponent of Trump's project.
Kenya: Bamburi Cement’s profit rose slightly to US$57.4m in 2016 from US$57.2m in 2015. Its operating profit rose by 8% to US$76.7m from US$70.9m. However, its turnover fell by 3% to US$371m from US$382m. It blamed the fall in turnover on high competition, particularly in the individual homebuilding market. It also reported a fall in sales volumes of cement although this was offset by infrastructure and contractor markets in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The cement producer added that the cement grinding plants it is building in Kenya and with its subsidiary Hima Cement in Uganda are on schedule to be completed in mid-2018.
The publication of LafargeHolcim’s annual financial results for 2016 this week starts to give us a review of the year as a whole for the multinational cement producers. Of the larger producers, CNBM, Anhui Conch and Votorantim are expected to make their releases in April 2016, so we’ll focus here on the available data from LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement, Cemex and BuzziUnicem, with UltraTech Cement included for some regional variety.
Graph 1: Sales revenue from multinational cement producers in 2015 and 2016 (Euro millions). Source: Company financial reports.
As can be seen in Graph 1 currency exchange effects have caused problems for producers’ sales revenues, with LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement and Cemex all reporting falling sales on a direct comparison. Subsequently like-for-like adjustments have cropped up repeatedly on balance sheets to try and present a more investor-friendly picture, although even this has still seen LafargeHolcim and HeidelbergCement report small declines. In this sense it’s a little unfair to include India’s UtraTech Cement, given that the bulk of its business is in just one country. Operating in just one country though has its own risks, one of which we’ll discuss below.
Unsurprisingly, given the poor sales, the focus for the multinationals has generally been on earnings measures such as operating earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). Here, LafargeHolcim and Cemex have done far better as they have streamlined their businesses. For example, LafargeHolcim’s operating EBITDA rose by 12.9% year-on-year to Euro4.895bn in 2016.
Graph 2: Cement sales volumes from multinational cement producers in 2015 and 2016 (Mt). Source: Company financial reports.
Graph 2 looks at cement sales volumes. Most of the producers have made small gains or losses in 2016 with the stark exception of LafargeHolcim. Its cement sales fell by 12.9% to 233Mt in 2016. More alarmingly, for the fourth quarter of 2016 LafargeHolcim blamed an increased rate of declining cement sales volumes on demonetisation in India, tough trading conditions in Indonesia and a unusually good year (in 2015) to compare itself against in the US.
On that point about India, UltraTech may not have released any sales volumes figures but other larger Indian producers have experienced problems with the government’s decision to remove certain banknotes from circulation in November 2016. A report by HDFC Securities this week suggests that cement volumes fell by 13% year-on-year in January 2017 following a 9% decline in December 2016. The country may be facing its first decline in cement sales volumes since 2001. This is squarely down to government policy.
On a regional basis probably the most worrying theme has been an apparent slowdown in the US towards the end of the year. As mentioned above LafargeHolcim has blamed it on a good previous year and Cemex concurred. Buzzi Unicem also reported the same trend but didn’t attribute it to anything in paticular. President Donald Trump’s push for US$1tr investment on infrastructure in the US should help to reverse this along with anything that happens with his Mexican border wall plans.
The other area to pay attention to is Indonesia. Both LafargeHolcim and HeidelbergCement reported tough trading here prompted by production overcapacity. Locally, Semen Indonesia said this week that its sales revenue fell by 3% to US$1.95bn in 2016 and it still has new cement plants to be commissioned in 2017.
The overall picture for 2016 from these cement producers appears to be one of companies treading water and making savings as their sales were battered. As mentioned previously (The global cement industry in 2016, Global Cement Magazine, December 2016) the geographic spread of assets the multinationals own doesn’t seem to be protecting them from world events as well as they once did. On the plus side northern Europe seemed to pick up or at least hold steady in 2016 but various political shocks such as the UK departure from the European Union and elections in France and Germany may scupper this. In a similar vein India remains one of the key markets but government policy has potentially dented its growth this year. In the US cement volumes may be slowing but Donald Trump is riding to the rescue! With this continued high level of potentially disruptive events cement producers are probably hoping for a quiet year in 2017.
Philippines: The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is preparing to investigate the cement industry for alleged violations of competitive practice. It says it has found reasonable grounds to proceed to a full administrative investigation on the cement industry for possible violations of Sections 14 and 15 of the Philippine Competition Act, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. This follows a legal statement by Victorio Dimagiba, a former trade undersecretary, in August 2016 accusing the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP), LafargeHolcim Philippines and Republic Cement and Building Materials of engaging in anti-competitive agreements.
Dimagiba has accused the cement producers of striking illegal agreements including, “restricting competition as to price or components thereof or other terms of trade, abusing their dominant position by engaging in conduct that substantially prevents, restricts, or lessens competition, imposing barriers to entry, or committing acts that prevent competitors from growing within the market.” He has also alleged that Ernesto Ordonez, the head of CEMAP, has used the trade association to justify violating the Philippine Competition Act, as well as maintaining prices of domestic cement in the retail market ‘unreasonably’ high.
Ordonez responded to the claims saying that he was puzzled about the PCC’s decision and that CEMAP had not been informed about a preliminary inquiry.
Jordan: The General Association for Construction Workers has opposed Lafarge Jordan's decision to give workers at its Fuheis cement plant a three-month paid holiday. The worker’s body has requested that Lafarge provide staff with guarantees that they will receive their full rights after the holiday period ends, according to the Jordan Times. The paid leave started on 2 March 2017 and was implemented to reduce costs at the plant. Clinker production stopped at the plant in 2013 and cement grinding and packaging stopped in July 2016. Around 200 workers are affected by the arrangements.
Algeria: Serge Dubois, the head of communications at LafargeHolcim Algeria, says that Algeria faces a cement production overcapacity of 10Mt by 2019. In an interview with a local radio station he added that the country will overproduce 1Mt in 2017 and that it imported 3.5Mt in 2016, according to Maghreb Emergent. LafargeHolcim intends to diversify its product range to cope with this anticipated production glut with a focus on roads, airports and industrial users.