Gypsum industry news
Belgium: Etex's sales revenue has fallen by 2.8% year-on-year to Euro1.48bn in the first half of 2016 from Euro1.52bn in the same period in 2015. However, on a like-for-like basis the group said that its revenue rose by 2.6% when exchange rates and scope were taken into account. Its profit fell by 12% to Euro55m from Euro63m.
The group reported that markets in Germany and France remain weak due to manufacturing capacity being downsized. In Latin American countries growth was realised with the exception of Brazil. The profitability of this growth was under pressure from exchange rates and increased competition.
Germany: Gebr Pfeiffer will build a MPS 160 B vertical roller mill at the Siniat Hartershofen gypsum wallboard plant. The mill will replace the existing Pfeiffer MPS 125 A at the site. The new mill will be set up in an annex next to the old grinding plant and the majority of the existing equipment will be reused.
The scope of services comprises delivery of the mill, adjusting equipment including a hot gas generator, process ducting, electrics, buildings and foundations, including installation and connection works as well as integration into the existing process. Switch-over and commissioning of the grinding plant is planned for December 2016.
Colombia: Etex Group intends to invest US$77m in its Colombian production plants in the next few years. Currently, the firm operates on the local market through gypsum wallboard producer Gyplac and cement producer Skinco Colombit. The expansion plans are expected to create up to 1000 direct and indirect jobs accord to the Portfolio newspaper.
UK: Etex Group has merged Siniat, Promat and EOS Facades to create Etex Building Performance UK. The new division will combine technical knowledge and research and development resources in the dry construction sector. Etex intends to create new products aimed at reduced installation times whilst catering to specifiers' requirements.
The division will employ over 500 people, with production sites in Bristol, Yorkshire and County Durham. It will be led by Neil Ash, the managing director of Siniat UK, who will become Head of Etex Building Performance UK. Each company will continue to trade separately in the UK as Siniat, Promat and EOS Facades.
"Our vision is singular - to be the leading expert in dry construction, concentrating our efforts on creating solutions for the buildings of tomorrow. The three brands within Etex Building Performance complement each other and are well known for their innovation, high-quality manufacturing and technical know-how," said Ash.
Siniat produces drywall products and Promat specialises in passive fire protection. Siniat acquired EOS Facades, a provider of Steel Frame Systems, on 8 April 2016,
Belgium: Etex's cladding and building board sales revenue rose by 5% year-on-year to Euro1.44bn in 2015 from Euro1.38bn in 2014. It attributed the growth to a strong market in the UK, stabilised performance in construction markets in Germany and the Benelux region and recovery in most of South America.
Overall the company reported that its revenue rose by 2.3% to Euro3.05bn from Euro2.99bn. However, its profit fell by 60% to Euro37m from Euro95m. This was attributed to restructuring in Argentina, France and Germany and impairment charges. The cladding and building board business represents 47% of Etex's building products portfolio. It built three gypsum wallboard plants, in Peru, Brazil and Romania, in 2015.
Etex expects to achieve modest growth in revenue and profit in 2016.
Romania: Siniat Romania, part of Belgium's Etex, will close its plant in Bucharest and quarry in Nucsoara in February 2016 in order to concentrate production at its recently-opened Turceni plant.
The decision was taken because Turceni has a better geographic proximity to the company's sales markets in south-east Europe, according to General Manager Marc-Andre Fritsche. The Turceni plant was opened in October 2015 in Gorj, south-west Romania, with an investment of Euro50m. It will incorporate the company's wallboard production activity and extend the portfolio with more complex products.
Siniat Romania has another plant in Aghiresu, Cluj. It posted a Euro25.8m turnover in 2014 and a loss of Euro1.15m.
Romania: Siniat Romania, part of Etex, has opened a gypsum plant in Turceni, Gorj, following a Euro50m investment from its own funds.
The gypsum wallboard plant encompasses 320,000m2 of land and is the largest in Romania, according to the company. With a production capacity of 27Mm2 of wallboard, the unit serves a strategic purpose for Siniat Romania, covering 10 markets across south-east Europe.
The Turceni plant is the first in Romania that uses synthetic gypsum produced from the gas desulphurisation process from a power plant. The gypsum has high purity and consistency and is an excellent feedstock for wallboard. In addition, water used in the production process will come from rainwater collected from the roofs of the plant and drilled wells, thus limiting resource consumption, while waste water will also be internally recycled.
Siniat has also invested Euro1m in the construction of a new road that links the plant to the national road, limiting the impact of heavy vehicles on the local community. The plant provides 80 new employment opportunities for the local community, with the new employees being trained in Siniat plants in Romania, Italy and Germany.
"Siniat plays an active role in local communities. We particularly appreciate the labour force in Romania, with well-trained and motivated people. We constantly invest in technology and use high quality raw material. We develop in a stable economic environment with high potential. Our goal is to capitalise on this potential," said Marc-André Fritzsche, General Manager of Siniat Romania. Siniat Romania has two other plants in Bucharest and Aghiresu (Cluj).
Romania: Siniat Romania, part of Belgian industrial group Etex, will open a Euro50m wallboard plant in Turceni, southern Romania in October 2015.
The company will create 80 new jobs in the production division of the plant. Some 80% of the staff has already been recruited. The plant will produce plasterboard using synthetic gypsum from power producer CET Turceni. It will be the only plant in Romania to use synthetic gypsum from the flue gas desulphurisation process at a thermal power plant, according to Siniat.
Belgium: Etex has announced the addition of Caroline Thijssen, Guillaume Voortman and its CEO Paul Van Oyen to its Board of Directors. In addition, Marc Nolet de Brauwere, Amaury Pelgrims de Bigard and Philium bvba, represented by Philippe Coens, have left the board.
Caroline Thijssen is Head of Talent Banking and Management Dynamics at BNP Paribas Fortis. She gained a Master's degree in Economics and Management at the UCL, Université catholique de Louvain. She started her career in the financial world at BNP Paribas Fortis, with a two-year international management traineeship. Then, she fulfilled the roles of Deputy Branch Manager, Branch Manager and Group Branch Manager, before joining the HR department. She became a member of Etex's Board of Directors on 27 May 2015.
Guillaume Voortman is Head of Finance and Administration at Tropicore — a trading company for tropical commodities, such as rubber. He holds a Master's degree in Applied Economics and Management, which he obtained at the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis in Brussels and the UCL. He also gained an Advanced Master's degree in Financial Economics at the KU Leuven University. He began his career as equity trader at ING Bank Belgium. Afterwards, he moved to ING Bank Netherlands as Associate Relationship Manager, before joining Tropicore. He entered Etex's Board of Directors on 27 May 2015.
Paul Van Oyen has been attending the Board meetings since he was appointed CEO of Etex on 1 January 2015. On 27 May, he became a member of the Board in the role of Managing Director.
South Africa: Belgium's Etex Group has announced the acquisition of Lafarge's South African gypsum business. An Etex press release stated that Lafarge Gypsum South Africa and its local company Marley Building Systems, two businesses of equal size, will team up to create a 'unique and competitive offer that capitalises on today's Southern African building trends.'
The deal is in line with Etex's aims of strengthening its position in Africa, with the Southern African region and Nigeria its main drivers of growth. In South Africa, the demand for housing has been on the rise, driven by a growing population and an emerging middle class. In addition, the market is becoming increasingly regulated. Consequently, alternative building methods like dry construction are gradually replacing traditional construction methods.
"Combining these two product offerings enables us to provide the full scope of Etex's portfolio," said Paul van Oyen, CEO of Etex. "That way, we can answer the changing local demand with a global approach for the whole southern African market, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique."
For factory personnel, Etex has said that everything will remain as it is. Meanwhile, the support teams at Marley will be strengthened by teams from Lafarge Gypsum. "Lafarge Gypsum (adds) the technical and innovation support an international group can offer," added van Oyen. A transition team will ensure the smooth merger of both companies once the deal has been finalised. The acquisition is subject to the customary closing conditions.