Serbia’s second-largest cement plant Novi Popovac, part of Holcim Group, reported on Monday a 160 million-dinar ($2.76m) net profit for 2003, rebounding from a loss a year earlier, when results were hit by redundancy costs. Holcim acquired a 70 percent stake in the Novi Popovac plant in early 2002, when Serbia sold its three key cement plants to foreign investors in what marked the first major privatisation after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Top managers at the plant, located about 150km south of Belgrade, said they had produced less cement than planned last year but were satisfied with the result. Cement output stood at 700,000t, 172,743t below 2002.
To fulfil its 2004 business plan, Holcim’s plant in Serbia will have to produce 700,000t of cement and invest to upgrade production and environmental standards. The company posted a loss of 1.77 billion dinars in 2002, the first year of its activity as it spent around 17.5 million euros for redundancy packages, paying off some 1500 workers who volunteered to leave the factory.
Markus Wirth, chairman of the plant’s board of directors, said Novi Popovac would keep output unchanged compared to 2003. The plant produced a record 1.06Mt in 2001. "We will probably see lower economic growth in Serbia this year and we expect cement consumption to stay unchanged. The cement industry will never produce more than it can sell," he told reporters.