Egypt to decide on cement licences next week

Egypt to decide on cement licences next week
Published: 11 December 2009

An Egyptian committee will make a final decision on whether to scrap cement licences of four companies over start-up delays, and at least two of them were likely to be spared, a senior official said on Thursday.

The Industrial Development Authority has already cancelled the licence of one company, El Wadi Cement, which like the others was awarded a licence in October 2007.

The four firms being reviewed are al-Arabiya al-Wataniya, El-Nahda Industries, North Sinai Cement and Assiut Cement, the local affiliate of Mexican company Cemex.

Al-Nahda Industries and Assiut Cement were likely to be spared at the committee meeting on Tuesday, Amr Assal, the head of the authority, told Reuters.

"The decision is fairly clear on those two companies," he said, adding that those two "look good" and the two remaining firms were still under review.

Assiut Cement, although not developing a greenfield site, has upgraded its existing lime site and had raised production capacity to 5.8Mta from 4.2Mt.

Such "indications of seriousness" will be taken into consideration by the commitee, he said.

Al-Nahda Co. for Industries raised a 1.2 billion Egyptian pound syndicated loan, signed on Wednesday, to build a cement plant in southern Egypt.

Al-Nahda is owned 30 percent by National Cement Co. and 30 percent by Egyptian builder Arab Contractors.

In October 2007, Egypt granted six greenfield cement factory licences and two more to expand production, in a bid to boost production after rising local prices drove them to impose an export duty in February.