Thailand: Siam Cement Group (SCG) is poised to revamp its business plans to cope with the impact of the political turmoil and adverse economic outlook, setting its sights on more exports and trading with the Asean market.
President and chief executive Kan Trakulhoon said that the country's prolonged political problems and the absence of a functioning government have affected the operational plans of SCG. According to Trakulhoon, the existing business plan called for the company to cut cement shipments from 5Mt in 2012 to 4Mt in 2013 and 3Mt in 2014, to better serve domestic consumption. However, given the unfavourable market conditions in Thailand, SCG will keep cement exports at 4Mt in 2014, with Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam as the target markets.
"The overall market of cement and construction materials has shrunk over the past couple of months thanks to the sluggish economy, which has been hit by the prolonged political problems,'' said Trakulhoon. "Earlier we forecast that the two industries should grow by 8 - 9% in 2014, but now we see they will grow at best by 4 - 5%."
According to Trakulhoon, sales of cement and construction materials fell by 7 - 8% during January and February 2014 against the 4 - 5% growth that SCG had projected. Normally late December 2013 until April 2014 is the peak selling season for products in this group, as people build and renovate their homes.
Cement and construction materials are expected to be harder hit in the second and fourth quarters of 2014 as the construction and property business slows down in line with tepid economic prospects and a lack of new private investments because of the absence of a new Board of Investment (BoI). Investment proposals worth US$15.3 – 18.4bn are still awaiting approval from the BoI's main board, which has yet to be appointed because of the political crisis since October 2013, when board member terms expired.
SCG itself has one project, a joint venture with a Japanese partner, which is pending approval from the BoI. The company also has two other joint venture investment projects with the Japanese investors waiting to submit the investment privileges with the BoI.
Trakulhoon said that he remains upbeat that SCG's sales revenue would grow by at least 10% in 2014, up from US$13.3bn in 2013. Domestic sales are expected to make up 65% of the group's sales revenue in 2014, with overseas sales contributing the remaining 35%, 20% of which will come from Asean nations.