Nairobi - Kenya's East African Portland Cement plans to
expand after returning to profit during the six months ended December, boosted
by cost cutting and improved cement sales.
Portland, Kenya's number three cement producer, said on
Monday it was optimistic of strong full-year results and was exploring
expanding to Tanzania.
The firm, which also operates in Uganda and South Sudan, was
also looking to grow its clinker production line after returning to profit for
the first time in two years.
"We are now discussing the financing of these
projects," managing director Kephar Tande told investors in Nairobi.
Portland plans to raise new capital through the Nairobi
bourse, with the aim of increasing clinker production to 1.5 million tonnes by
2016 from 450 000 tonnes.
Tande also expects Portland to double its export market to
10% by 2014, while noting "good prospects" of the company paying a
dividend to shareholders for the first time since 2010.
Construction has been one of east Africa's fastest growing
sectors over the last decade, fuelled by a burgeoning middle class with higher
disposable incomes. Returns on investment in the sector have outpaced those of
equities and government securities.
Portland made a pretax profit of 376.27m shillings ($4.3m)
for the six months ended December, compared with a pretax loss of 247.20m
shillings during the same period last year.
Tande said the business boosted profits by saving about 850m
shillings by reducing inefficiencies at its plants, which led to greater
production of clinker, a key raw material for making cement.
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