Holcim invested in Russia's opening cement sector as early as 1994, acquiring a minority shareholding in
Moscow-domiciled Alpha CementJSC. Through the purchase of additional share packages, which has just been approved by the relevant competition authority, Holcim now holds 68.8 percent of Alpha Cement's share capital. Holcim will fully consolidate this important Russian cement producer effective December 31, 2003.
Alpha Cement controls two strategically very well positioned cement companies with production facilities in Shurovo and Volsk. The combined annual cement capacity is 4 million tonnes. Shurovocement serves Moscow's growth market, and Volskcement has a cement plant on the Volga, to the north of Saratov. These two firms are also well established in the market with white cement and an American Petroleum Institute-certified special cement for the oil industry. Alpha Cement generates some SFr100m in sales. The company is operating at a profit.
The Russian market is gradually recovering from the economic crisis witnessed in the 1990s. Russia's cement consumption in 2003 is estimated at somewhat over 40Mt. High growth rates are expected in the Greater Moscow area in particular. Further prospects are assessed as positive.