Bamburi defends stake in Portland

Bamburi defends stake in Portland
Published: 18 August 2006

Bamburi Cement Company managing director Michael Purchercos addresses the media outside the factory in Athi River during the launch of the firm’s road safety week yesterday.
 
Managing director Michel Puchercos said there were no negative business consequences arising from the stake in East African Portland Cement Company. Lafarge, the 73 per cent owner of Bamburi, directly or indirectly holds 41.7 per cent in Portland. Last week, the Trade and Industry ministry said shareholders of Portland – including National Social Security Fund with 27 per cent and Treasury (25 per cent) – had agreed to address the issue of "monopoly" in the cement industry. 
 
Yesterday while answering reporters after the launch of Bamburi road safety campaign, Mr Puchercos said: "There is only one consequence I know of: There has been a tremendous increase in the price of Portland share. If you remember a few years ago the price was very low." 
 
The matter is being handled by Lafarge from Paris. . Following the Thursday meeting last week, some of the shareholders are likely to cede part of their stake to allow Portland to list at least 25 per cent of its shares as required by the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Currently, only seven per cent of Portland shares trade at the bourse. Mr Puchercos said Bamburi wanted Portland to grow and that was why it was providing them with clinker. He said the company was the lowest bidder in the tender for the cement-making raw material. 
 
Lafarge also owns 15 per cent in Athi River Mining and like in the other two cement firms sits on the board. Asked whether such situation would pass muster in the European Union, he said: "I am not the right person to answer on behalf of EU judges, but I believe Kenya’s (competition) laws are not lagging behind." "There is no legal lever to force Bamburi out of the shareholding," he said while claiming the situation had no competitive advantage for his firm. 
 
He was speaking at the company’s Athi River plant during launch of the "It’s your life on the line, watch the road" where minister for Transport was represented by deputy secretary in charge of Road Transport Phillip Lagat. 
 
The two-year regional campaign targets reduction of accidents and losses, through behavioural change by drivers transporting its heavy cargo.