EBRD to invest in expanding cement plant in Azerbaijan

EBRD to invest in expanding cement plant in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 15 / Trend , V.Sharifov /

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is prepared to invest about $150 million to expand capacity Garadagh cement plant, located in Azerbaijan, by 30 percent, the Director of the EBRD business group for South and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, Oliver Descamps, said in Baku.

"We have expressed the willingness of the Government [of Azerbaijan], and the company Holcim to invest in the expansion of [capacity] Garadagh cement plant. Investing in one of the largest cement plants in the Commonwealth of Independent States is an important signal for the diversification of the economy," said Descamps.

Partners of Garadagh Cement JSC are Swiss Holcim (69.4 percent), EBRD and Azerbaijan Investment Company (10 percent), private shareholders (10.6 percent).

The EBRD investment will increase the capacity of Garadagh cement plant to 1.7 million tons from the current 1.3 million per year, as well as reduce energy costs for the production of one ton of cement.

"Allocation of these funds will be approved within two months, we can not delay the project," said Descamps.

Director of the EBRD business group, who held many meetings with the government in Baku on April 15, said as a result of his visit that the "trip was very useful".

"The situation in Azerbaijan is better than the neighboring countries in the region, and this was achieved as a result of decisions made by the country many years ago, including the establishment of State Oil Fund, optimization of the oil and gas sector, creation of a competitive banking market," said Descamps.

He stated that for many years, the Government of Azerbaijan has had a conservative approach to the internal and external loans, and the private banking system did not heavily depend on external credits.

He predicted that by the end of 2009, the total EBRD-approved investments for Azerbaijan will exceed $1 billion. In 2008, the bank invested $120 million in 19 various projects in Azerbaijan, and in 2009, this amount will be $220 million in 14-15 different projects.
 
"In 2010 we plan to invest more than in 2009," said Descamps, adding that the bank intends to double the investments to support the banking and real sectors of Azerbaijan's economy, the small and medium businesses, energy sector.

"We are going to do this at the expense of long-term financing for a period of 5 to 15 years," said Descamps.

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