Cemex raised €1,216m of additional capital this year through a rights issue of participation certificates in September. The sale of Cemex' Austrian and Hungarian operations for €310m ran into trouble because of the time it took the Austrian authorities to clear the deal. With no clearance after twelve months, Strabag withdrew from the deal, but Cemex claims such a withdrawal invalid. The case will go to arbitration in the new year.
On the 1st of October, Cemex completed its sale of its Australian assets to Holcim for €1,1770m. These assets notably consist of a 25% stake in Cement Australia, 249 batching plants and 83 quarries. The sale, while freeing cash, will result in a loss on the disposal of these assets, acquired only 27 months previously. The sale of the businesses in the Canary Islands had been completed just a few days before the previous year-end, so this was not a disposal during the year.
A new 1.2Mt per annum cement grinding plant at Tilbury in Essex was officially opened in September and will replace a smaller grinding centre in Kent, also close to the Thames estuary. A new 1.6Mt per annum integrated cement was commissioned at Broceni in Latvia this year along with an export/import terminal at Liepaja to serve other Nordic markets. Because of the cutting or deferring of investments, these were the only sizeable investments completed in 2009.
Cemex is expecting its domestic volumes to decline by around 4% in cement and by 12% in ready mixed concrete in a market where housing is forecast to fall by 14% while infrastructure is set an a 20% increase. In the United States Cemex is affected by the weakness in the western regions of the nation and this year's volumes look like being down by some 30% in cement, by 35% in aggregates and by 38% in reedy-mixed concrete. In Central and South America, Colombia, now the biggest market, is looking to be off by some 8% in 2009.
In Spain, the housing market is still falling, suggesting that completions will be down by around 60% in 2009, but the relative stability of industrial and commercial market should limit the volume reductions to some 30% for cement and 35% for ready-mixed concrete. Cemex German cement volumes are likely to bend the year with a 17% drop and a similar percentage reduction is being seen in the French ready-mixed concrete business. Poland and the Czech Republic are showing more positive signs than the rest of Eastern Europe. Egypt has been the only one of Cemex' main markets to buck the negative volume trend, with cement shipments expected to show a 12% increase, a bit less than the 16% advance shown after nine months.
Cement shipments for the first nine months of 2009 declined by 19.4% to 49.64Mt, with aggregates deliveries falling by 22.0% to 145.81Mt and the ready-mixed concrete volume dropping by 24.5% to 45.00m m³. The reductions in cement prices seen in the United States and in Spain have, overall, been in line with the fall in energy prices.