Cemex is looking to enter the massive Indian cement market as it recovers from last year’s debt crisis and aims to sell off more assets to cut its arrears, the company said on Thursday.
The Times of India reported on Wednesday that Cemex is in talks to buy a stake in south India-based Penna Cement to move into the world’s second-largest cement market.
"We are looking all over the world. We would like to be in India, yes," Chief Executive Lorenzo Zambrano told a news conference in the company’s home city of Monterrey, but declined to comment on any possible talks with Penna.
This month, Cemex said it was investing $100 million in investment fund Blue Rock Cement Holdings to help build a cement plant in Peru, where construction is booming.
"We always said within the company that Cemex should be an elephant on a diet, a slim elephant, but we have transformed it into a greyhound," said Zambrano, who has admitted that the Rinker takeover, one of the biggest in emerging markets, was badly financed and poorly timed.
The company ended the first quarter with a net debt including perpetual securities of around US$18bn.
But Zambrano’s upbeat attitude was tempered by his acknowledgment that Cemex has yet to see a real improvement in demand for its key European and U.S. cement volumes and that the company still aims to make $80 million in savings this year. Zambrano also said he expects more asset sales.
"Now that things are looking much better, we can sell these assets ... and obtain a better price," he said.