Shree Cement Chairman chalks out growth plans
Shree Cement Chairman chalks out growth plans

Shree Cement Chairman chalks out growth plans

In an interview with Business Standard, Benu Gopal Bangur, chairman of Shree Cement has said that he plans to ramp up capacity to 40 million tonnes in the next four-five years.

Speaking on the challenges that he faced when Shree Cement started operations, Bangur said that the real problem was finance at that time. The company´s first IPO could only muster subscription of 30 per cent, and the share priced had tanked to Rs 6 from Rs 10.

Bangur told the publication that Punjab National Bank had supported Shree Cement by agreeing to a loan recast, and the company also received support from the State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur.

The Chairman felt that the business environment had improved from the years when cement used to be a controlled commodity, and producers had no selling rights. However, Bangur said in the interview that the new regulations were causing a slowdown as it takes five to seven years to purchase land for a plant, and procuring the relevant equipment.

He continues to be involved in board meetings and strategic decision-making. Despite a net worth of $5.9 billion, Bangur said that his lifestyle and mode of working remained the same, and he (along with his organisation) would continue to remain debt-free.

World Cement Association to be launched
According to worldcement.com, the World Cement Association (WCA) will be launched to represent and promote the cement industry worldwide, as well as support the commercial and legal interests of its members internationally.

WCA´s corporate members will be worldwide cement manufacturers and will have full voting rights at General Assemblies and will elect the board of directors. World Cement Association has associate memberships for cement equipment manufacturers, logistics, shipping and trading companies, suppliers and service providers to the cement industry. National and regional associations and other related industry bodies will be affiliated members, says the report.

The World Cement Association will give members access to its comprehensive cement industry statistical data service, and will host industry events, seminars and awards. It also aims to promote industry best practice at all levels, especially in emerging markets, with focus areas including sustainability, climate change, health & safety and promoting fair trade practices worldwide.

India´s largest limestone block receives record bid
Rajasthan has received a record eight times the reserved price for the largest limestone block in the country in the e-auction conducted at Udaipur. The block, situated in Jayal tehsil of Nagaur, has 168 million tonnes (MT) of high-grade limestone resources, reports the Times of India.

The news item says that three major cement companies - Emami Cements, JSW Cements and Mangalam Cements - were in the fray for bidding. The reserve price for the block was approximately Rs 35 per tonne. The block received a final bid of around Rs 300 per tonne from Emami Cements which is more than eight times the reserve price.

"This is a major success for the department as it will result in revenue of at least Rs 6,000 crore for the state over the life of the mine, as well as create hundreds of jobs in the area. Rajasthan is already the leading cement manufacturer in the country with the presence of 23 cement plants and this will further consolidate the state´s position," Secretary (Mines) Aparna Arora said in a release.

"The government is committed to making Rajasthan the top mining destination in the country and is taking several steps to boost mining in the state. We are investing in world-class exploration capabilities as well as focusing on clearing all pending applications," the Secretary said.

Domestic cement demand to touch 6% in FY17: ICRA
India´s demand for cement is expected to rise to 6 per cent in the current financial year against 4.6 per cent in 2015-16, ratings agency ICRA has said.

This is expected to support cement prices in the near term. However, the energy cost benefits are expected to reverse in second half of 2016-17, given the recent hike in the pet coke and coal prices, ICRA said in a statement.

ICRA Ratings Senior VP Sabyasachi Majumdar said demand in 2016-17 is likely to be mainly driven by the pick-up in the infrastructure segment, primarily road projects and housing segment and the likelihood of a recovery in the rural demand from second half of this fiscal, given the better monsoons.

"This is likely to support cement prices in near term. Notwithstanding the improved sentiments in these sectors, a number of structural constraints need to be sorted out for project implementation to gather pace in the other infra sub segments," he added.

Pakistan records strong cement sales growth
Total cement dispatches in Pakistan during the first two months of the current fiscal year clocked up at 4.9 MT, a 14 per cent increase from 4.3 MT recorded in the same period of 2015-16. However, according to data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), overall export dispatches have decreased. Exports in July-August were down almost 1 per cent on a year-on-year basis to 1.022 MT. Overall domestic sales in August rose 21 per cent to 3.02 MT from 2.5 MT in August 2015. Cement sales in the north zone were 2.495 MT in August, up 22.6 per cent from a year ago. In the south zone, sales recorded an increase of 13.2 per cent at 0.532 MT from the same month of 2015.

Exports to Afghanistan dropped 12 per cent to 346,928 t in July-August on an annual basis, APCMA data shows. Exports by sea suffered even more. As opposed to 537,120 t exported during the first two months of the preceding fiscal year, exports by sea in July-August 2016 were 407,120 t, showing a 24 per cent decline on an annual basis. However, increased exports to India made up for these shortfalls to some extent. Exports to India during the first two months of the current fiscal year grew 167 per cent year-on-year to 268,230 t.

A spokesman for the APCMA said the industry has been doubling its production capacity every seven to eight years. The buoyancy in the sector on the back of healthy domestic consumption during the last 20 months has encouraged the industry players to go for further capacity expansion. He said growth in the sector during the first two months of the fiscal year was in spite of Eid holidays. Growth of domestic consumption in August was also ´impressive,´ as consistent rains failed to hurt construction activities, he added. He said upcoming projects along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will further boost cement consumption.

The industry has yet to realise its export potential due to the lack of support from the government. The loss of the Afghanistan market is a matter of concern for the industry, which has been marginalised there because of subsidised Iranian exports.

Cement outlook to improve from Oct
Adversely impacted by heavy rains and sand mining issues, the cement industry´s volumes seem to have slowed down to 22 million tonnes (MT) during August, but is expected to improve from October as construction activities resume post monsoon, says a report from ICICI Securities.

The volumes have been impacted primarily due to decline in cement growth in the north and the central regions. These regions have likely seen a decline of 5-7 per cent in August compared to same year-ago period, due to heavy rains and sand mining issues.

Meanwhile, the eastern part of the country continued with its growth momentum with 6 per cent in the last month over the same period a year ago. The southern region also appeared to have grown 5-6 year-on-year on a low base from last year, the report said.

"Our channel checks suggest cement industry volumes are likely to have grown in low single-digit year-on-year to 22 MT during August (production grew 1.4 per cent year-on-year during July), impacted by heavy rains and sand mining issues, particularly in the North and the Central regions," ICICI Securities said.

However, it said volumes and prices are expected to improve from October as construction activities resume post monsoon. Further, the report said the "average pan-India prices, which saw an estimated 3 per cent month-on-month decline in July, further declined by 1-2 per cent month-on-month. While pet coke prices have risen by ~80 per cent over the past six months and the same is likely to impact margins in a seasonally weak period, we expect it to be passed on to consumers in the medium term."

Nepal imposes ban on a few cement brands
Nepal has imposed a temporary ban on sales of various brands of cement after laboratory tests showed these products did not meet their minimum standards set by the government, according to Republica Online.

The Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) has temporarily banned OPC and PPC Super Advance and Infratech cement produced by Shree Araniko Cement Pvt Ltd, and Reliance Super Shakti and Reliance Cement produced by Reliance Cement Pvt Ltd. Likewise, NBSM has imposed a ban on PPC Kalash Gold Cement produced by Shree Cement Pvt Ltd.

According to Bishwo Babu Pudasaini, Director General of NBSM, samples of these cements failed to meet the compressive strength level standards set by the government.

Nepal also banned PPC brand of Bajra Shakti, Tri Shakti Supper and JBC cement produced by Jaya Bageshwori Cements Pvt Ltd, and PPC brand of Yeti, Rock Strong and Gaurav Cement produced by Jay Mangalmaya Cements Pvt Ltd. According to NBSM officials, these samples of PPC exceeded the 28-percent insoluble residue level set by the government.

Courtesy: Business Standard, Economic Times

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