Lafarge's expansion in central Europe will take another step forward on Friday, October 22th, with the inauguration of a fully modernized cement plant with a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes in the presence of the Prime Minister of Serbia.
This dry process clinker production line has cost over €50 million and represents the largest foreign investment in the country for five years.
Equipped with the state-of-the-art technological standards and complying with the Group's environmental standards, this investment will enable the Beocin plant to keep pace with the construction market's strong growth potential in Serbia and Montenegro.
Lafarge acquired Beocinska Fabrika Cementa (BFC), which owns the Beocin plant and is the leading player in Serbia and Montenegro's cement market, during the April 2002 round of privatisation. The cement plant is located on the Danube, 110km from Belgrade and 100km from the Hungarian border.
“The Group's active expansion in central and eastern Europe, which started over a decade ago, reflects Lafarge's strategic focus on the region, which boasts strong growth potential. The Beocin plant now has everything it needs to serve the construction market in Serbia and Montenegro” commented Bernard Kasriel, Lafarge's Chief Executive Officer.
Notes to Editors:
1. Lafarge BFC is 84% owned by a joint-venture of Lafarge, and the Austrian Asamer and Witersdorfer. Lafarge controlls the management of Lafarge BFC.
2. Lafarge has built strong positions in central and eastern Europe, with a industrial presence in its four core businesses in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Moldavia, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.
3. The Lafarge group's Cement Division generated 46% of its sales and 42% of its operating income in emerging markets in 2003.
4. Lafarge, the world leader in building materials, holds top-ranking positions in all four of its Divisions: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete, Roofing and Gypsum. Lafarge employs 75,000 people in 75 countries. In 2003, the Group posted sales of €13.6 billion and operating profit on ordinary activities of €1.9 billion.
Statements made in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions ("Factors"), which are difficult to predict. Some of the Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: the cyclical nature of the Company's business; national and regional economic conditions in the countries in which the Group does business; currency fluctuations; seasonal nature of the Company's operations; levels of construction spending in major markets; supply/demand structure of the industry; competition from new or existing competitors; unfavorable weather conditions during peak construction periods; changes in and implementation of environmental and other governmental regulations; our ability to successfully identify, complete and efficiently integrate acquisitions; our ability to successfully penetrate new markets; and other Factors disclosed in the Company's public filings with the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers and the US Securities and Exchange Commission including its Reference Document and annual report on Form 20-F. In general, the Company is subject to the risks and uncertainties of the construction industry and of doing business throughout the world. The forward-looking statements are made as of this date and the Company undertakes no obligation to update them, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.