Arabian Cement makes move to expand abroad with Jordan plant

Amman: Arabian Cement is eyeing acquisitions in Africa and the Middle East as it prepares to start construction of its first cement plant outside Saudi Arabia – a $400 million project in Jordan, its chief executive said. « We are looking at any opportunity to construct a cement factory and seize the chance by focusing on the Middle East and North Africa region along with Africa, » Arabian Cement President and CEO Mohammad Uthman said. The company, which is investing around $900 million in projects to more than double capacity to seven million tonnes annually in the Saudi market by 2010, sees countries such as Sudan, Zimbabwe and others in East Africa as particularly attractive. « There are shortages there, and some countries don’t have any cement factories at all, » Uthman said. Partnership ——————————————————————————– ——————————————————————————– Arabian Cement may also opt for regional acquisitions in partnership with Italcementi, with which it is already an equity partner in a $600 million plant in Labuna, in western Saudi Arabia. The two firms are building a plant with four million tonnes of annual capacity to be completed by 2010, Uthman said. « They can participate with us any time as equity partners… our agreement with them is to set up factories or to acquire existing plants in any place in the Middle East, » Uthman said. The construction of Arabian Cement’s first project outside its home market in Jordan is expected to be completed within two years, Uthman said. The plant, to be located in the southern Qatrana area, will have an initial capacity of two million tonnes per year, which could double to four million if demand is sufficient. It could also export to neighbouring markets such as Iraq, Syria and the Palestinian territories, Uthman said. « If we find a market in Iraq and Syria or Palestine in future, the Jordan plant will have the capacity, and so we are planning this for the future, » he added.