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Italy is Europe’s second cement producer with 48 million tons
A production volume just under 48 million tons (a record value for the national sector) which makes Italy the European Union’s second cement producer, thanks to increased investments in construction, for a total of145.55 billion euros in 2006 (+5.2% year-on-year). These are the latest available figures for Italian cement manufacturers – a sector where there are about 30 firms operating under the trade organization Aitec (www.aitecweb.com). It’s a relatively high number of businesses, which also sets Italy apart from other European markets where mergers and acquisitions have consolidated the market. The Italian cement sector operators are highly heterogeneous: there are multinational groups as well as small and medium sized enterprises who operate nationally or even locally.
The most important groups are those listed in the Milan Stock Exchange: Italcementi, Buzzi Unicem and Cementir: three large players who cover over 52% of total output, which has been growing constantly in the past ten years. The data on their 2007 financial year indicate an overall growth in turnover: +4.2% to 6.1 billion euros forItalcementi, +9.1% to 3.5 billion for Buzzi Unicem and +9% to 1.15 billion for Cementir. Overall, the operators’ estimates confirm that the growth trend of the past few years will continue into 2007. A positive curve is also expected for investments (480 million euros in 2006).
Exports are not strong in this sector, although volumes are constantly increasing: in 2006 (source: Aitec’ latest annual report) Italian exports reached 2.6 million tons (5.5% of national production), up 8.7% from 2005. Italy’s first export market is Spain, who turns to import in order to satisfy local construction demand which has truly boomed in the past few years. The Spanish market absorbs one third (33.4% of Italy’s total exports). Other key destinations are Albania and Malta which, with Spain, receive 67.7% of Italy’s export flow. In Europe Italy is the fifth exporter by volume, ahead of Spain, France and the United Kingdom.
Italy’s cement sector includes 91 plants, 47% of which are located in the North, 18% in the Centre and 35% in the South and the Islands: a widespread distribution network throughout the country allows the production plants to be relatively close to the end user’s location. In terms of production capacity, the most significant is the medium cohort – 300 thousand to 600 thousand tons a year – with 26 plants. It is followed by the medium-low cohort – 100 thousand to 300 thousand tons (21 plants – and the medium-high cohort – 600 thousand to 1 million tons (18 plants). The most significant quota, however, is still the one produced in the 15 large-surface plants: their production capacity is greater than a million tons per year and they are able to put on the market 18.56 million tons of cement, i.e. 38.8% of Italy’s total production.