Gypsum industry news
Argentina: Sales of gypsum wallboard have fallen by 6.8% year-on-year in 2016, according to data from the National Statistics and Censuses Institute (INDEC). Overall, the domestic construction sector declined by 12.7% in 2016.
US: USG has sold its gypsum mine in Empire, Nevada to the Empire Mining Company for US$10.3m. The Empire Mining Company purchased the mine and associated land on 27 May 2016, according to land records accessed by the Reno Gazette-Journal. USG shut the mine in late 2010 and the locale has since been described as a 'ghost town'. USG has not commented on the sale.
Australasia: LafargeHolcim is believed to be considering an exit from Australia and New Zealand, with the region under the spotlight as part of a strategic review globally of non-core assets. It is understood that a private equity firm has already made an approach for some assets, amid a period of global consolidation in the industry.
Lafarge sold its Australian gypsum operations four years ago for US$127m to Knauf, but Holcim has remained one of the most dominant suppliers in the Australian and New Zealand market of aggregates, concrete and concrete pipe and products. While the division is likely to be too large for Boral, it may pursue parts of the business or partner with another buyer to secure some of the LafargeHolcim assets. However, it is believed that the most likely acquirers include CRH and Votorantim.
Australia's construction industry has been enjoying strong conditions on the back of a recent boom in residential house prices in Melbourne and Sydney. Brickworks, the country's largest brick and tile maker, recently flagged a lift in its earnings for the 2016 financial year on the back of the strong momentum in its building products group.
US: Lone Star Funds has agreed to sell 4 million shares of common stock in Continental Building Products (CBP) through an underwritten secondary offering. Based on the closing price of CBP's common stock on 9 September 2015, the offering is valued at approximately US$85.2m. The underwriter has a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 600,000 shares of common stock from the selling stockholder. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC is acting as the underwriter for the offering, which is expected to close on 16 September 2015.
Egypt: Sales from Knauf's recently opened wallboard plant in Suez could reach US$15m in Egypt and Africa during the first year of production, according to Alexander Knauf, managing partner of the company. The company plans to sell 8Mm2 of gypsum wallboard during the first year of operation, Knauf said in a statement.
Azerbaijan: Construction materials producers manufactured goods worth US$585m in 2014, some 22.2% more than in the same period of 2013, according to the Azerbaijani State Statistics Committee's report. During the period, Azerbaijan produced 2.98Mt of cement, a 40.5% increase compared to the same period of 2013 and 192,800t of gypsum, 23.3% more than in 2013.
US: Eagle Materials has reported its financial results for the second quarter of its 2015 fiscal year, which ended 30 September 2014. Second quarter earnings before interest and income taxes (EBIT) increased by 24% year-on-year to US$78.5m, as both second quarter sales volumes and sales prices improved in nearly all businesses.
As previously announced on 17 October 2014, Eagle entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CRS Proppants and its subsidiaries, including Great Northern Sand, an established supplier of high-quality northern white frac-sand to the energy industry. The cash purchase price of US$225m is subject to customary post-closing adjustments. The acquisition is expected to close during Eagle's third fiscal quarter, subject to receipt of required regulatory approvals.
Gypsum wallboard and paperboard reported second quarter operating earnings of US$45m, up by 22% from the same quarter of 2013. Improved wallboard net sales prices and increased wallboard and paperboard sales volumes were the primary drivers of the quarterly earnings increase. Wallboard and paperboard revenues for the second quarter totalled US$133m, an 11% increase from the same quarter of 2013. The revenue increase reflects higher average wallboard net sales prices and higher wallboard and paperboard sales volumes. Wallboard sales volumes for the quarter of 567Mft2 are 2% higher than the same quarter of 2013.
UK/Belgium: Siniat has boosted its sales of its premium thermal wallboard by 56% year-on-year with a marketing campaign. Taxi Studio, a creative firm in Bristol, UK, devised a campaign to extol the benefits of using the premium thermal wallboard to persuade merchants, builders and homeowners to trade up from using a standard thermal wallboard to Siniat's premium offering.
Siniat's marketing and communications manager Fiona O' Callaghan said that the decision to bring in people with more expertise has paid off: "We had no experience of executing a national marketing campaign and the benefits of the thermal plasterboard are complex ones to communicate," she said. "What's more, having recently rebranded there was very little knowledge of the Siniat brand. Taxi Studio managed to devise a campaign that dealt with all aspects as well as creating a real internal buzz around the company. We're absolutely delighted with the results and the creativity of the campaign has really opened our eyes."
Australia: Boral has reported that its half year underlying net profit jumped by 73% on the back of improved housing and road construction markets, cost cutting measures and dry weather conditions. The company saw its underlying net profit rise to US$81.5m in the six months to 31 December 2013. However, the company also warned of a slowdown in activity and earnings in the second half of the financial year, which runs until 30 June 2014.
Boral actually recorded a net loss of US$23.6m for the half year but this figure includes US$106m in one-off accounting charges related to its gypsum plasterboard joint venture, due to be completed on 28 February 2014, which it says will be offset by gains in the second half.
Chief executive Mike Kane highlighted a US$20.8m turnaround in the Australian building products division and a 6% lift in its largest division, building materials and cement.
"The rise was driven by strong project activity, very dry weather conditions in New South Wales and Queensland and the benefit of restructuring and overhead cost reduction initiatives," said Kane. "Despite expected underlying performance improvements, there will be a skew of earnings to the first half compared to the second half due to higher major project volumes, dry weather conditions in the first half and the impact of the gypsum joint venture."
The company achieved US$54.7m in cost savings, much of which came from cutting 1000 jobs. Boral plans to use much of a US$453m payment from its gypsum partner USG to reduce its US$1.26bn net debt.
Belarus / Russia: Belarus-based Belgips was sold to Russia's Volma Corporation in accordance with Belarus President's Decree No 34 'Concerning public joint stock venture Belgips.' The decree was passed on 16 January 2014.
The decree provides for selling 1.98m Belarus-owned shares of Belgips, 99.5% of the authorised capital of the company, to Volma at a market price that was in effect on 1 April 2012, without holding an auction or a contest.
The deal was conditioned on Volma Corporation signing an investment agreement with Belarus. The investment agreement provides for the upgrade of Belgips' production facilities and construction of a plant to produce gypsum-based building materials in the village of Gatovo, Minsk District. In line with the document, the new facilities are to be constructed on a step-by-step basis simultaneously with the development, evaluation and approval of the necessary project documentation at every phase of the works.
The investment agreement provides that at least Euro43m will be invested by 1 July 2018. Euro24.7m of that amount is to be transferred to the Belarusian company by 30 June 2016. The investment will be used to upgrade the existing production facilities and to construct the new plant.
The gypsum wallboard production line is to be modernised within two years and its capacity increased to 10Mm2/yr. Apart from that, the plant to produce gypsum-based building materials in the village of Gatovo is to be built and commissioned by 1 July 2018. The plant will manufacture up to 500,000m2/yr of gypsum partition blocks, 100,000t/yr of dry mixes and 30Mm2/yr of gypsum wallboard. No jobs will be cut before 1 July 2018.
The Minsk City Council will earmark a land plot for Belgips to build and maintain the facilities stipulated by the investment project. The land plot will be provided without an auction and a 99-year lease agreement will be signed. The lease agreement on the land plot at Kozlova Street will be extended utill 1 July 2019.
The investors will not be able to use the shares of the Belarusian company at their discretion until they fulfill the obligations stipulated by the investment agreement. If the investors fail to fulfill the obligations, Belarus reserves the right to take back the shares on a non-repayable basis.