Buzzi Unicem’s turnover in 2008 edged ahead by 0.7% to EUR3,520m, which represents an underlying increase of 1.9%. In 2008, the net debt increased by of 70.9% to EUR1,061m on the back of capital spending in excess of EUR850m. Acquisitions included three grinding plants in Italy, 35% stakes in two Algerian cement companies and US ready-mixed concrete operations, as well as increasing the equity stake in Dyckerhoff from 88% to 93%. Cement sales in 2008 declined by 5.8% to 32.1Mt, with lower volumes being generated in particular in the United States and in Italy, while more modest reductions were incurred in Russia and in the Ukraine. The strongest advance in cement deliveries was seen in Poland with a 9.8% increase. Ready-mixed concrete deliveries were 0.6% lower at 17Mm³.
In Italy, turnover declined by 11.6% to EUR850m and the unfavourable weather in November and December did not enable the company to recover volumes lost earlier in the year. Cement shipments, including exports, were down by 13.2%, while ready-mixed concrete deliveries were 17.4% lower. Ready-mixed concrete prices improved by about 5% on average, but cement prices fell back in the second half of the year.
In western Europe, Germany and the Benelux, turnover rose by an underlying 6.0% to EUR796m, with cement deliveries ahead by 2.4% as German shipments rose by 2.9%, thanks to higher export volumes. Central and eastern European turnover improved by 24.7% to EUR918m, while cement shipments were an average 0.2% higher, with increases in Poland (+9.8%) and the Czech Republic (+2.1%) being largely offset by lower volumes in the Ukraine (-2.2%) and Russia (-3.0%).
The United States turnover dropped by 11.9% to EUR750m, which corresponds to an underlying decline of 6.8%. Cement deliveries fell by 10.5%, as Texas, the market served by Alamo Cement, also went into recession in the second half. Average cement prices declined by 3.2% in the year as a result of the weak demand. Ready-mixed concrete deliveries, on the other hand, increased by 18.9%, entirely as a result of acquisitions.
The 50%-owned Mexican associate Corporaciòn Moctezuma experienced weaker markets as the US recession spread south. Corporaciòn Moctezuma’s cement volumes declined by 1.7%, though ready-nixed concrete deliveries advanced by 6.2% as market penetration continued to increase. However, better selling prices for cement led to a 5.7% increase in turnover in local currency terms, while in euros, the turnover showed a 3.2% reduction to EUR205m.