Orascom deal locks Lafarge in competition with arch rival

13 December 2007
Lafarge’s acquisition of Orascom Construction Industries’ (OCI) cement group has brought the French company unusually close to international rival, Holcim of Switzerland.

Holcim holds a 44 per cent stake in Egyptian Cement Company (ECC), Orascom cement group’s largest cement operation.

ECC contributes significantly to the cement group’s output with a production capacity of 10 million tonnes a year (t/y).

The company accounts for almost a quarter of Egypt’s cement market.

“It comes across as an odd arrangement,” says Tarek Shahin, analyst at Egypt’s Beltone Financial. “The two companies are competitors in several other markets.”

Holcim has announced that it had not received any notification from Lafarge about altering the terms of its stake in ECC.

“It may be that Holcim is content to be an equity participant,” said a source observing the deal.

Lafarge also owns the Beni Suef cement plant in a joint venture with Greece’s Titan.

In November, Lafarge-Titan Group announced it would spend close to $180m to boost cement production capacity at Beni Suef to 4.7 million t/y.

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