Italy-based Italcementi Group says it has strong confidence in Thailand, where its regional production will be based when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) becomes effective next year.
Meanwhile, the cement multinational is also studying expansion into Myanmar in the next few years as demand for its products grow there, group chief executive officer Carlo Pesenti said in an interview with The Nation.
“We are negotiating with a local partner in Myanmar and also studying the country’s Foreign Investment [Law],” he said.
He added that the Asean region had growth potential, offering opportunities for Italcementi’s business expansion.
The group has operated in Thailand since 1998 through Jalaprathan Cement, holding stakes of no less than 20 per cent. JCC was established in 1956 by the Royal Irrigation Department for the construction of Bhumibol Dam, the first multipurpose concrete dam in Thailand. JCC has two grinding centres in Takhli, Nakhon Sawan province, and Cha-am, Phetchaburi province.
In 1999 Italcementi Group increased its presence in Thailand by becoming a shareholder of Asia Cement (ACC), founded in 1989 and operating in the domestic market with a cement plant in Pukrang, Saraburi.
In line with the group’s energy strategy, in July 2011 ACC commissioned a waste-heat recovery and power generation system, based on steam, of 21 megawatts gross power capacity at Pukrang cement plant.
“Thailand is our production hub in developing countries in Asean. We also develop innovative products to support the demand in this region,” he said. In 2012, its cement plant in Thailand recorded revenue of 227.9 million euros (Bt10.25 billion) and net profit of Bt380 million.
Italcementi Group is the fifth-largest cement producer in the world, operating in 22 countries on four continents, and boasting an industrial network of 53 cement plants, 10 grinding centres, seven terminals, 449 concrete-batching units and 115 aggregates quarries.
In 2012 Italcementi Group posted sales of about 4.5 billion euros.
In Asia the group has investments in China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The group’s vision for the next 10 years is to build a better and sustainable future for all its stakeholders. Pesenti said it would focus on four categories to support this vision: production, innovation, development, and environment.
This year, when it celebrates its 150th anniversary, the group is investing 150 million euros to renew its cement plant in Rezzato, in Italy’s Brescia province, to become the most efficient and environmentally friendly in Europe.
The group opened i.lab in 2012 as a prestigious research and innovation centre designed by US architect Richard Meier. The i.lab is used to research and develop innovative products to support its sustainable growth in the long term.
Currently, 5.3 per cent of Italcementi’s revenue is from innovative products, a figure it plans to raise to 20-30 per cent by 2020, the group’s innovation director Enrico Borgarello said.