Cement maker HeidelbergCement aims to raise German cement prices to Euro70 per tonne in the medium-term from a current level that is around 10 to 20 euros lower, its head said on Monday. "We must reach European (price) levels in the medium-term," chief executive Hans Bauer told Reuters in an interview. Cement prices have risen above Euro70 per tonne in parts of Europe, while HeidelbergCement is still trying to push through price increases of Euro 20 in its domestic markets, where competition had depressed prices as low as Euro 40.
Bauer also said the company wanted to reach an investment-grade debt rating again, aiming for a BBB-rating by 2006, up from its current BB+. HeidelbergCement is aiming to cut debt to around three times its core earnings, he added. "We should reach this goal at the latest by next year," Bauer said. HeidelbergCement posted in 2003 operative cash-flow - roughly equivalent to earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and deprecation (EBITDA) - of around Euro1bn ($1.22 billion). Debt stood at Euro3.6bn at the end of last year.