The Star Early Edition

Afrimat looks to new con­ti­nen­tal fron­tiers

- Roy Cokayne Business · South Africa News · Mining · Industries · Africa · South Africa · Mozambique · Tanzania · Namibia · Botswana · Andries van Heerden

AFRIMAT, the listed open-pit min­ing com­pany and a sup­plier of in­dus­trial min­er­als, com­modi­ties and con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, has placed its planned ex­pan­sion into Africa on the back burner. It is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­pand­ing into other con­ti­nents.

An­dries van Heer­den, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Afrimat, con­firmed this last week, adding that it was “a huge challenge” for com­pa­nies to repa­tri­ate their money from African coun­tries. This was be­cause of the cur­rency and eco­nomic prob­lems caused by the slump in com­mod­ity prices.

Van Heer­den said Afrimat was start­ing to see “green shoots” again in Africa and ev­i­dence of things pick­ing up again, but there were so many op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in South Africa.

He said Afrimat was also look­ing fur­ther afield than Africa into other con­ti­nents and cer­tain ar­eas of the world where very sim­i­lar trends to what they saw in South Africa 10 years ago were start­ing to emerge.

“I’m not say­ing we are go­ing there, but we think we could pos­si­bly do that,” he said.

Van Heer­den said that the tim­ing of a de­ci­sion to ex­pand into other con­ti­nents was still a long time off. “We’ll rather do too much home­work than too lit­tle. It’s go­ing to take a long time to make sure (of the ex­pan­sion),” he said.

Van Heer­den said Afrimat’s ex­po­sure to Africa was very lim­ited at the mo­ment and the com­pany only still had a pres­ence in Mozam­bique.

“We still have a pres­ence in Mozam­bique, but every­thing is on care and main­te­nance. That’s the only place we’re still at. We were in Tan­za­nia at one stage and we were in Namibia. We have been scratch­ing in Botswana a lit­tle, but we haven’t had much suc­cess. Africa is a very dif­fi­cult place to work in,” he said.

Afrimat started operations in Mozam­bique in the sec­ond half of its fi­nan­cial year to Fe­bru­ary 2015, as part of a strat­egy to di­ver­sify ge­o­graph­i­cally and enter new mar­kets in Africa.

Van Heer­den said at the time that Afrimat was at­tracted to Mozam­bique by sev­eral up­com­ing projects, in­clud­ing in nat­u­ral gas and roads projects. How­ever, he stressed that Afrimat would only talk about ex­pand­ing into an­other African coun­try when it started repa­tri­at­ing profits from Mozam­bique.

“We would rather go too slowly and do it prop­erly than to rush and burn our fin­gers. It is dif­fi­cult and some­thing that must be done with great care. We are not hang­ing the busi­ness fu­ture on it,” he said at the time.

Afrimat last week re­ported a 24 per­cent growth in head­line earn­ings a share to 135.6 cents in the six months to Fe­bru­ary from 109c in the pre­vi­ous year, af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a tough first quar­ter to its fi­nan­cial year and an ex­cep­tional sec­ond quar­ter.

Shares in Afrimat closed un­changed on the JSE on Fri­day at R28.50.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa