Lebanon Businessnews News

Cement deliveries drop
Holcim net profits down by 36 percent
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Cement delivered to the local market totaled 5.3 million tons in 2012, down by around 5.5 percent year-on-year. The production capacity of the local cement sector is 6.2 million tons per year. The local cement market is supplied by three plants: Cimenterie Nationale, Holcim (Liban), and Ciment de Sibline.

Adib Hachem, Director of Marketing and Sales at Cimenterie Nationale, said: “This slight decrease in the local market is due to the unstable situation which has led to a slowdown in the real estate sector.” Cimenterie Nationale delivered around 2.1 million tons to the local market, a 4.5 percent drop from 2011. The company’s exports, however, were up by 25 percent to 0.45 million tons. Hachem said: “Lower sales in the local market were somewhat compensated by an increase in exports." He said that Cimenterie Nationale exports its products mainly to Syria, the northern part of Cyprus, Egypt, and southern Europe.

Holcim’s sales of grey cement dropped by 4.5 percent year-on-year, to $188 million. The company’s net profits fell by some 36 percent to $18 million. Jamil Bou Haroun, Business Development Director at Holcim, said: “The operational profits suffered from the decrease in net sales as well as the huge increase in the cost of coal and fuel oil.”

Société Libanaise Des Ciments Blancs (SLCB), a subsidiary of Holcim, saw a four percent growth in sales of white cement to $14.5 million. SLCB’s net profits reached $2.5 million, up by four percent year-on-year.

Bou Haroun said economic indicators like construction permits and capital inflows demonstrated a reverse trend in 2012 after recording continued growth in the past few years. He said that uncertainties in the region aggravated this slowdown.

Hachem said: “We expect similar results for 2013, with a shift in our exports destinations from Syria to North African markets, namely Libya.” He said the market has been stable during the first half of 2013, remaining close to last year’s levels. Cimenterie Nationale’s exports reached 0.2 million tons so far this year.

Hachem said the construction sector is forecast to slow down even further in 2014, unless the turmoil in Syria stops and the government launches infrastructure projects, mainly water dams and electricity infrastructures.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Jun 28, 2013