Bloomberg News

Iraq’s Lafarge-Run Cement Plant Plans to Triple Production

November 23, 2011

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- MerchantBridge & Co. plans to triple cement production over the next two to three years at a plant operated by partner Lafarge SA in Karbala, Iraq.

“We expect to start breaking even in January,” MerchantBridge Acting Chief Executive Officer Eric le Blan said in an interview in Dubai yesterday.

Demand for building materials in Iraq is set to increase as the country rebuilds homes and infrastructure after years of war and economic sanctions. Iraq needs to build 2.5 million homes by 2015, the country’s housing minister said in November last year.

Production at Karbala, now at 576,000 tons of cement, will exceed 1.8 million tons by 2013 or 2014, le Blan said. Annual demand for cement in Iraq is about 20 million tons and existing output about 5 million tons a year, he added.

MerchantBridge completed in 2010 a $220 million investment with Lafarge, the world’s biggest cement company, in which they took over the Karbala plant under a 15-year lease from the government, according to a company statement in 2010. Production at the time was about 300,000 tons, the company said.

MerchantBridge plans to pursue additional investments in Iraq next year, including in the electricity market, where multibillion dollar projects are under way to help resolve power shortages, le Blan said.

--Editors: James Kraus, Alan Purkiss

To contact the reporter on this story: Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net


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