MerchantBridge finalise $220m investment in Iraq's Karbala Cement Plant
Signalling the conclusion of five years of preparatory work, MerchantBridge, a leading private equity group with diverse interests operating from offices in Iraq, Lebanon, UAE, KSA and the UK, together with their partners Lafarge, assumed official control through a handover process which concluded yesterday. The partners now take on full operations and management of the plant from the Government of Iraq under a 15 year lease agreement.
The Karbala Cement Plant currently produces less than 300,000 tons of cement per annum. MerchantBridge and its partner Lafarge are set to increase annual production to 2 million tons within 30 months. This investment will contribute to the rapid growth of the Iraqi economy and spearheads the ever-increasing foreign direct investments in various sectors.
Speaking from MerchantBridge's offices in Iraq, Basil al Rahim, CEO, said:
"This is an important milestone for MerchantBridge in Iraq. It demonstrates that commitment, creative thinking and dedication, the hallmarks of our operations around the world, can overcome even the most challenging of environments. This deal clearly positions MerchantBridge as the leader in the field of direct investments in Iraq and we expect that the Karbala deal will be one of a number to follow in the coming months that will further reinforce our status in Iraq and across the wider Middle East region."
MerchantBridge is the largest private investor to date in Iraq with current investments of over $1.5bn in debt and equity.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Iraq, Sayed Nasser Idriss, the Chairman of the South Cement Company said, "We are proud to have been involved in a process that attracted such a prestigious investor to Karbala in particular and we look forward to working with MerchantBridge on future opportunities in our country. There is a 30-year reconstruction deficit in Iraq and MerchantBridge's ability to understand our operating environment marks them out as a unique player."
Iraq paid for the construction of these factories.
the only reason they are not producing at full capacity is due to power shortage.
Iraqis could have taken out a loan of $40M to build a power station and they could have increased production of the plant without GIVING IT AWAY to Lafarge who will now pocket all the profits and investments paid for by the people of Iraq.
basically this is international companies squeezing Iraq because Iraq is in a weak spot.
on the other hand, Lafarge will potentially improve quality of produce and improve the productivity and efficiency of the plant.
They are still liable to pay taxes on their profits and have to employ Iraqis.
In addition Iraq needs to give these "sweetener" deals to international firms to demonstrate to international investors that Iraq is a safe country for their investments. Iraq needs to do this in order to get companies to fund large projects like power stations, airports, urban railways, oil refineries...
World Bank to Finance Lafarge Cement Plant in Kerbala
Posted on 01 January 2013.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is providing a $70 million loan to help renovate a cement factory in Iraq, part of an effort to support the local building sector and aid in the country’s reconstruction.
The financing will allow Kerbala Cement Manufacturing, a subsidiary of France’s Lafarge, to rehabilitate a state-owned plant near the city of Kerbala.
The company will undertake the work under a concession agreement with the government of Iraq. The financing is expected to help bolster Iraq’s construction sector, a key source of jobs, and support rebuilding efforts in the country.
“This financing will help address the cement shortage that Iraq is facing and help the country meet supply gaps in its infrastructure,” said Guy Ellena, IFC Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. “It will also play a catalytic role in attracting other foreign investors to Iraq.”
Kerbala Cement is a joint venture between Lafarge and MerchantBridge, a London-based private equity group. The financing is being supplemented by a $20 million loan from Proparco, a development financial institution funded by the French Development Agency and private shareholders.
IFC and Proparco will work with Kerbala Cement to implement an environmental and social strategy, helping align the company with international standards for sustainability.
This initiative is part of IFC’s efforts to support the development of Iraq’s private sector. Over the past two years IFC has committed about $500 million in the country, including $245 million in mobilization.
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