Six industrial companies feature among the region’s 100 largest companies this year. However, most of them dropped down in the ranking despite many governments in the Middle East focusing on driving industrial diversification.

Casablanca Stock Exchange-listed Lafarge Ciments was a new entry at number 88. The group is an affiliate of French building materials giant Lafarge, which itself is currently negotiating a e40bn ($42bn) merger with Switzerland’s Holcim. Lafarge Ciments had dropped out of the ranking last year after appearing in the 2013 table.

The highest-placed industrial group and the only one of its sector in the top 10, Industries Qatar, slipped to 7th from 4th. The conglomerate’s net profit dropped 21 per cent in 2014 to QR6.3bn ($1.7bn), from QR8bn a year earlier.

Doha-listed Industries Qatar is a diversified company and has full ownership of the country’s largest steel producer, Qatar Steel Company. It also holds stakes in Qatar Fertiliser Company (Qafco), Qatar FuelAdditives Company and Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco) under joint ventures with international companies.

Industries Qatar said in a statement on its 2014 results that it “faced challenges from extended shutdowns across all plants during the first half of the year, continued weak urea prices, and heightened operating costs”. Also, last year, Qapco and Qatar Petroleum scrapped their planned $6bn Al-Sejeel petrochemicals project, which was due to be completed by 2018.

Iron ore and steel product prices generally declined in 2014 due to lower global demand

The only industrial climber on the MEED 100 table was Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), which rose to 20th place from 32nd last year. The firm increased its sales by 78.5 per cent to SR10.8bn ($2.9bn) compared with 2013 as it brought its aluminium rolling mill online and completed work on its alumina refinery. However, Maaden’s net profit fell by 19 per cent as it was hit by lower prices for its phosphates products.

The mining giant is currently building an estimated $7bn phosphates complex at Waad al-Shamal in the north of the kingdom, which should further boost revenues when completed.

Two Saudi cement companies dropped more than 15 places in the MEED 100: Saudi Cement Company fell to 79 from 61, while Southern Province Cement Company slipped to 81 from 66. Both companies slid for the second year running.

The kingdom’s cement sector is currently suffering from overcapacity and a slowdown in the construction industry. Most cement producers have witnessed a decrease in sales as a result of labour shortages in the
construction industry, according to the local Al-Rajhi Capital. As many as 1 million foreign workers were forced to leave Saudi Arabia following a government clampdown on illegal employment, which began in late 2013.

Iran’s Mobarakeh Steel slipped to 86 after sitting mid-way in the 2014 ranking. The company, based in Isfahan, is one of the largest steel producers in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Iron ore and steel product prices generally declined in 2014 due to lower global demand. Many commodity prices have taken a hit over the past year on slower-than-expected growth in China.

Saudi Industrial Investment Group, which mainly focuses on the petrochemicals sector, fell out of the Top 100.