French cement maker Lafarge enters into deals with armed groups in Syria, including the Islamic State, to protect its business interests in the country.
Boards of Lafarge and Holcim approve Eric Olsen for the role of chief executive officer once the firms merge, creating the world's biggest cement company.
Lafarge has recently welcomed Praveen Bechoo as its general manager for aggregates.
Domestic cement sales grew 4.6% in the third quarter of last year after contracting in the first two quarters, though sales were on track to come in lower than in 2013
Swiss cement group Holcim and French rival Lafarge are to merge creating a dominant supplier of cement for concrete to the global construction industry.
Domestic cement sales rise in the third quarter of 2013, but at a slower pace than the previous quarter.
South African cement sales will disappoint next year, says multinational Lafarge, taking the opposite view to research group Frost and Sullivan.
PPC pulls its funding for the Cement and Concrete Institute‚ which closed its doors at the end of April.
PPC said on Tuesday it had pulled its funding for the Cement and Concrete Institute (C&CI)‚ which closed its doors at the end of April‚ because the defunct 75-year-old industry body had failed to continue to provide the services it needed.
Since then‚ the cement maker has employed three former C&CI senior staff. CEO Ketso Gordhan said that following the closure‚ PPC felt it had an obligation to provide the industry with regular updates.
On Tuesday‚ the group launched an online “news desk service”. This follows on the heels of a mobile application launched earlier this month that includes a product overview and digital store locator.
“PPC felt it was not getting the necessary support or benefit from investing in the institute‚” the company’s executive for strategy and investor relations‚ Kevin Odendaal‚ said. “We felt service had been reduced over time.”
The closure of C&CI comes at a time of profound change in southern African cement and concrete markets. In February‚ two major South African-based cement producers‚ Afrisam and Lafarge‚ also resigned as main co-funders of the C&CI after PPC withdrew its support.
On May 2‚ a diluted version of the C&CI‚ the nonprofit The Concrete Institute‚ opened its doors. Along with Afrisam and Lafarge‚ the new body is co-funded by Sephaku Cement‚ majority-owned by Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote‚ a billionaire businessman.
The Concrete Institute employs about half of the former C&CI’s staff and is headed up by its old MD‚ Bryan Perrie. Perrie said the new body had a “totally different mandate” and was now not representative of the whole industry.
But it would offer most of the services provided by the C&CI‚ including “vital concrete technology services”‚ an information centre‚ advisory service‚ consulting‚ and industry publications.
However‚ the new body would not continue with the C&CI’s concrete marketing activities‚ leaving this to individual companies. It said this would help contain operational costs.
“What is important about the body is that it is a central‚ independent organisation‚” says Sephaku Cement CEO Pieter Fourie. “We believe in the pivotal role of this industry body which‚ by virtue of the services that it offers‚ is a necessity‚” Fourie said.
“Concrete is often ‘common ground’ across different industries. Because of this‚ participation by sectors such as construction and manufacturing is important to heighten the value the industry body can generate‚” he said.
It is also hoped the Concrete Institute will play a role in uniting other representative bodies in the built environment space‚ so they can present a more cohesive front to the government. The state has embarked on a R4-trillion infrastructure programme over 15 years. This includes cross-border projects according to Minister of Economic Development‚ Ebrahim Patel‚ although in this regard‚ little is clear at present.
Grant Neser‚ Afrisam sales and marketing executive‚ said the new body intended to invite such industry bodies to help guide the direction of the institute by sitting on its board.
“One of the biggest challenges we face in the built environment is the slow delivery of government-backed projects. The private sector has not been effective in engaging government on ways to unlock delivery‚ mainly because the built environment private sector has been so fragmented in its approach.”
Neser said the C&CI had played an invaluable role in promoting the interests and general advancement of the cement and concrete industries in southern Africa. He said its closure prompted many parties to lament the loss of this important knowledge repository.
“Its value lay in the fact that the C&CI was an industry body that represented the entire industry‚ and the information it disseminated and the position that it represented was completely independent and professional and in no way biased in favour of the cement producers or a particular supplier‚” he said.
“Afrisam always supports industry bodies that add value to our industry and we quickly realised that this body was too important to disappear from the business arena. We decided to take action and when we approached Lafarge and Sephaku with a proposal to jointly fund a new‚ more compact and cost-effective body‚ they readily agreed — for the same reasons.”