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India: Dalmia Cement Bharat Ltd. (DCBL), a subsidiary of Dalmia Bharat Enterprises, has picked up a 50% stake in Assam-based Calcom Cement India (Calcom) for an investment US$47m. Calcom is in the process of expanding its consolidated cement manufacturing capacity to 2.1Mt/yr.
Amit Chaudhery, group corporate communications at Dalmia Bharat Group, said, "DCBL has arrived at an in-principle agreement with Assam-based Calcom Cement for a 50% stake in that company. Calcom Cement has a robust presence in markets of the northeast. The 50% ownership of this 2.1Mt/yr semi-commissioned plant is the first concrete example of the non-organic, acquisition-based growth strategy of DCBL."
DCBL's move is part of its larger aims to expand its cement business to northern and northeastern. Dalmia has 9.5Mt/yr capacity and holds little over 45% in Orissa Cements, which has a capacity of around 5.5M/yr. The company is also looking to set up two greenfield plants in Karnataka with a capacity of 2.5Mt/yr each.
US: Four Roanoke Cement Company distribution terminals have achieved the US Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Challenge for Industry, which recognises plants that demonstrate a commitment to the environment by achieving a 10% reduction in energy intensity within five or fewer years.
"This achievement was the result of a supreme team effort," said Don Ingerson, VP of Cement and Aggregates, Sales and Marketing at Roanoke Cement, "The focus on reducing energy by each and every one of our people at the terminals is an excellent example of our commitment to continuous improvement. With that, our energy management knowledge continues to grow as we share it with our customers and our community."
The recognised operations include terminals in Richmond, Front Royal and Chesapeake (all in Virginia) and Castle Hayne, North Carolina. The average energy intensity reduction for all four terminals was 21.76%. "We are proud that these four facilities are the first to be awarded among the cement sector," stated Steven Drzymala, Energy Systems Engineer with Titan's Corporate Engineering Department. "This is a great achievement."
Kenya: The activism of local Massai groups and environmental NGOs is preventing the National Cement Company from installing its clinker plant south of Nairobi.
Narendra Raval, head of the National Cement Company Ltd (NCC), known as 'Guru', is facing stiff resistance to installing a clinker plant south of Nairobi and operating limestone quarries. His company has acquired land from the local county council to build its second cement plant in the country, but environmental NGOs are opposed to this project. Massai groups are doing likewise, saying in their case, that the land belongs to them. The strongest resistance comes from state-owned Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), which argues that the land should remain a migration corridor for wildlife between the national parks of Amboseli and Nairobi.
A subsidiary of the Devki Group (which is also the parent of DevkiSteel Mills), NCC argues its case by promising to reserve 200 new jobs for Massai youth.
Switzerland: Holcim surprised investors with a profit warning today, after announcing it would take a Euro641m hit in one-off charges on its 2011 accounts. The bulk of the impairment relates to a Holcim-specific issue in South Africa regarding AfriSam but analysts noted the decision to write down the value of assets in parts of Europe and the US on the back of sharply lower demand could be echoed by other cement makers.
"Some mature markets will never again see the record levels of profitability of the mid-2000s. Other players could be forced to do the same," warned Josep Pujal of Kepler Capital Markets.
Euro343m of Holcim's charges stemmed from completely writing down its remaining South Africa investment following a steep fall in demand for construction materials in the country since 2010. Holcim's South African exposure stems from its former local subsidiary, the country's biggest cement maker by sales, AfriSam. The remainder of the write-offs stem from adjusting property, equipment and goodwill lines in the group's accounts to much weaker markets. Some Euro271m in writedowns related to Spain and eastern Europe and Euro26m related to the US.
Kenya: Attempts by the suspended East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) managing director, Kephar Tande, to serve the management with court orders re-instating him ended in chaos yesterday when more than 1000 workers blocked him and his police escort as he attempted to leave the plant. One of the protesting workers was shot in the arm by a security officer at the plant who had wrestled a rifle from a nearby police officer. Following this the staff set fire to two vehicles and completely sealed the entries to the company premises.
Riot police used tear gas as workers shouted that they would only allow the police to escort Tande 'over their dead bodies.' The injured employee was given first aid at the company hospital and was later transferred to Mater Hospital in Nairobi.
Youth Affairs Assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti had earlier addressed the staff at the site and appealed to them to return to work. Ndeti told the workers that she had attended a meeting with the prime minister, Raila Odinga, and three senior ministers on 15 January 2012, which had resolved that the entire board of EAPCC should be fired. "The Prime Minister was in agreement with us that the entire board of directors will have to go home," she said. "From next week you will be hearing good news of new board members," she said.
On 17 January 2012 Kenya's Capital Market Authority (CMA) imposed a 60-day trading ban on the already suspended shares of EAPCC to protect investors from the dispute.