ALGIERS, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Algeria is to consolidate its state-owned cement plants into a national champion which will challenge France’s Lafarge LAFP.PA for its share of the market and later expand abroad, a government minister said.
The holding will invest 180 billion Algerian dinars ($2.413 billion) to nearly double annual cement production in the next three years, the official APS news agency quoted Industry and Investment Promotion Minister Hamid Temmar as saying.
At the moment, Algeria’s 12 state-owned cement plants produce about 11.5 million tonnes of cement a year and control 67 percent of the domestic market, with Lafarge accounting for the rest, the minister said.
He said the plan was to create “a national leader for the cement industry and other building materials.”
“This new industrial giant should, in the initial stage, control from 75 to 80 percent of the domestic market... before extending its activities towards the international market,” the agency quoted him as saying.
Oil and gas producer Algeria has in the past two years been moving towards greater economic nationalism, adopting legislation which has set limits on the share of foreign investment in all sectors of the economy.
Lafarge has been Algeria’s biggest private cement producer since its acquisition of Orascom Cement from Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries OCIC.CA OCICq.Lin 2008. (Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mike Nesbit) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: +213 21 727 020; fax: +213 21 639 151))