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Swiss Holcim enters U.A.E. market

The Swiss cement giant Holcim announced on Thursday that it had entered the fast growing United Arab Emirates market, acquiring a 25 percent stake in a local firm.

Holcim did not disclose the cost of its investment in the National Cement Factory Company, which is based in Abu Dhabi.

The firm was founded last year by the Emirates International Investment Company and other local investors in order to build a grinding station in Abu Dhabi, Holcim said.

When the factory comes on stream early in 2007, it is expected to have an annual capacity of more than two million tons of cement, it added.

"The partnership with important local investors provides a strong basis for future growth," Holcim said.

The Swiss group has the option of increasing its stake after the first full year of production, it added.

"This will provide Holcim with a strong import position in the U.A.E., one of the fastest growing markets in the Middle East region," the group said.

Holcim, which operates in 70 countries, is the second-biggest cement maker in the world after France-based Lafarge.

Beirut,02 13 2006
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