Gypsum industry news
France: Saint-Gobain has reported sales growth in all main territories in the first quarter of 2017, led by Asia and its emerging markets. Net sales for its Interior Solutions division rose by 6.2% year-on-year to Euro1.71bn in the first quarter of 2017 from Euro1.61bn in the same period of 2016. This was supported by rising prices in a 'strong cost inflation environment.' Overall the group's net sales rose by 7.6% to Euro9.14bn. Notable geographical trends included a recovery in France and a continued poor market in Brazil.
"The first quarter saw robust trading. The good momentum in sales volumes observed in 2016 continued at the start of the year in all business sectors and regions. France benefited from the recovery in new-build activity, while other Western European countries delivered further growth. North America and emerging markets had a good start to the year. The group continued to pursue its priorities, focusing particularly on sales prices amid a more inflationary backdrop," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, chairman and chief executive officer of Saint-Gobain.
France/Switzerland: Saint-Gobain has extended its agreements with the Burkard family relating to the sale of the shares of Schenker-Winkler Holding (SWH), which holds the majority of Sika voting rights, to 31 December 2017. Saint-Gobain will then have the right to extend the agreement up until 31 December 2018. The building products manufacturer said that that the further extension reflected its determination to eventually buy Sika.
Saint-Gobain has attempted to buy Sika since at least 2014. An attempt to transfer shares of Sika from the Burkard family was blocked by a Swiss court in late 2016.
France: Saint-Gobain's Interior Solutions division's sales rose by 1.5% year-on-year to Euro6.58bn in 2016 from Euro6.49bn in 2015. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 9.6% to Euro982m from Euro896m. It attributed the rise in sales to good growth in the first half of the year with growth in most regions. It also noted that productivity gains and a fall in costs, particularly energy, drove a 'sharp' improvement in its operating margin.
"Saint-Gobain showed strong progress in its 2016 results. We saw the benefits of our optimisation efforts and of our development in emerging markets, in a more supportive economic environment than 2015. As expected, France stabilised over the year as new-build activities recovered. All other regions enjoyed good momentum. The group also benefited from its focus on pricing against a backdrop of lower energy and raw material costs," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saint-Gobain.
France: Saint-Gobain has appointed Jean-Dominique Senard as Lead Independent Director. The newly created role will oversee the running of the company's governance bodies. Senard has been an independent director since 2012. The board of directors has also decided to appoint Senard as chairman of the Strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility Committee following the retirement of Jean-Martin Folz in June 2017. Philippe Varin will become the chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee and Anne-Marie Idrac will become the chairman of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee. All the personnel changes will take effect from 8 June 2017 at the company's annual general meeting.
France: Saint-Gobain's sales from its Interior Solutions division, comprising gypsum wallboard and insulation products, has risen by 2.1% year-on-year to Euro4.94bn in the first nine months of 2016 from Euro4.83bn in the same period in 2015. On a like-for-like basis the group said that its sales grew by 4.3%. It said that sales grew in all regions in the third quarter of 2016 and that despite a 'deflationary' environment prices remained under pressure in developed economies.
"The third quarter confirmed the upturn in volumes in Western Europe. France benefited from the steady improvement in new-builds; the UK showed no sign of weakness. Volumes continued to grow in US construction despite the lack of positive weather impacts for roofing in the quarter. Our businesses in Asia and emerging countries remained strong, delivering further robust growth. The price effect moved back into positive territory over the quarter, reflecting Saint-Gobain's strong positioning on its markets," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, chairman and chief executive officer of Saint-Gobain.
Overall, the group reported that its sales fell by 1.7% to Euro29.3bn from Euro29.8bn across all business lines although it said that on a like-for-like basis sales rose by 2.6%.
France: Environmental concerns have been raised about Placoplatre's plans to develop a open-cast gypsum quarry at Fort de Vaujours near Paris. The site is believed to contain enough high-end gypsum for the Saint-Gobain subsidiary's nearby wallboard plant and for other plants in the group, according to Deutsche Welle. However, environmentalists have raised the risks of excavating a site near to the capital of France that was used for nuclear testing between the 1950s and 1990s.
"It's important to maintain our plant. We employ 400 people at the factory which generates 3000 indirect jobs and an additional average 1000 workers will be operating at the industrial site," said Gilles Bouchet, Placoplatre's head of mining development. He added that the wallboard producer has conducted impact and radiation studies that have been submitted to the French nuclear safety body ASN.
Christophe Nedelec, president of environmental non-government organisation Gagny-Les Abbesses-Chelles has queried the efficacy of Placoplatre's tests and has called for an independent body to conduct them.
France: Saint-Gobain has joined part of the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), ranking among the top-three global companies and the number one European company for construction products. Special mention was given to the group's commitment and initiatives to tackle climate change. Established in 1999, the DJSI distinguishes best-in-class companies in the field of corporate social responsibility.
"I am very proud to see our group included in this renowned index, which is the benchmark for Corporate Social Responsibility. It is recognition of our commitment in this endeavour. We initially set out to be listed in 2017, so we met our target a year ahead of schedule. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our teams for achieving this excellent result," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and CEO of Saint-Gobain.
France: Saint-Gobain's sales revenue has fallen by 1.6% year-on-year to Euro19.6bn in the first half of 2016 from Euro19.9bn in the same period of 2015. Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 3.8% to Euro1.89bn from Euro1.96bn. The group blamed the loss in sales revenue on negative currency changes, especially in Latin American, and to a lesser extent, in the UK following its decision to leave the European Union. Saint-Gobain's Interior Solutions division, which includes gypsum wallboard and insulation production, reported a 3.1% rise in sales revenue to Euro3.3bn from Euro3.2bn.
"Saint-Gobain's sales for first-half 2016 confirm our February forecasts, with France stabilising and all regions making strong contribution to growth. Our strategy of investing in emerging markets provides us with a diversified platform for profitable growth. Our first-half results also benefited from efforts to optimise our operations, particularly in Western Europe, and from upbeat trading in the US. The results are in line with our objectives and we expect alike-for-like improvement in operating income for second-half 2016 versus second-half 2015. While the 23 June 2016 Brexit vote in the UK has created a climate of uncertainty, it does not affect our objectives," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saint-Gobain.
France/Switzerland: Saint-Gobain and the Burkard family have extended their agreement relating to the sale of shares of Schenker-Winkler Holding (SWH) and to extend the validity of the agreement until 30 June 2017. Saint-Gobain will then have an option to extend the agreement until 31 December 2018. SWH holds the majority of voting rights of Sika.
"Together, we are fully committed to this transaction. It makes sense from a strategic, industrial and financial standpoint for Saint-Gobain and for Sika, for their employees, for their customers and for all of their shareholders. The amendment to the agreement covers the longest of timelines to resolve related disputes, allowing SWH to regain its property rights," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and CEO of Saint-Gobain.
In December 2014, Saint-Gobain announced its intention to buy a 16.1% stake in Sika for Euro2.6bn, thus acquiring control over the building materials producer. However, Sika's management and minority shareholders opposed the deal. At the end of January 2016, Saint-Gobain's finance chief Laurent Guillot told Reuters that the group still believed in a successful outcome despite the resistance it faced. In February 2016 Sika reiterated its opposition to the takeover in a financial statement saying that, "There is still no evidence to suggest there is any industrial logic behind the transaction."
France: Saint-Gobain's net income has risen by 36% year-on-year to Euro1.3bn in 2015 from Euro953m in 2014. Its sales revenue rose by 3.3% to 39.6bn from 3.4bn. However, its overall sales volumes remained static with only 0.1% growth. Growth in the company's Flat Glass and Interior Solutions divisions, including wallboard and insulation, held up sales despite sharp declines in sales in France.
"Saint-Gobain delivered improved earnings in 2015 in a sharply contrasted economic climate. The improvement was dampened by continued weak trading in France, hurt in particular by the sharp contraction in our Pipe division in the second half of the year, despite the first signs of an upturn in construction indicators. The group completed a key stage in the reorganisation of its business portfolio, with the sale of Verallia on very favourable terms, and continues to pursue its plan to acquire a controlling interest in Sika after obtaining all antitrust approvals prior to closing the deal," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saint-Gobain.
The group's Interior Solutions division reported a 7.1% rise in sales revenue to Euro6.49bn from Euro6.06bn. Reduced volumes and prices in the French market slowed growth in Western Europe, although this impact eased in the fourth quarter of 2015. Trading in North America was dented by a slight dip in prices in the second half and by the decline in the Canadian market. Asia and emerging countries continued to deliver growth.