Builder Strabag halts $700 mn expansion in Russia

September 29th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Sep 29 (DPA) Austrian-based construction group Strabag SE announced Monday it has put on hold a planned joint venture with a Russian cement group in order to stay flexible in the current financial crisis.Strabag had planned a deal worth 500 million euros ($717 million) to combine its Hungarian cement factory with Basel Cement’s four cement production sites in Russia and Kazakhstan, Strabag spokeswoman Diana Klein said.

Basel Cement is owned by aluminium king Oleg Deripaska’s investment group Basic Element, which also holds a 30-percent share in Strabag.

The Austrian construction group is among the five largest in Europe.

“In the worldwide financial crisis, it is our most important task to stay financially flexible and independent,” Strabag CEO Hans Peter Haselsteiner said in a statement.

“In the current financial markets environment we have to select our investments carefully,” he added.

Strabag expects Russian cement prices to fall after import tariffs on cement were abolished last year and production capacities have been expanded in the country.

In July, Strabag announced it would buy Austrian and Hungarian building materials companies from the Mexican Cemex for 310 million euros.

The builder’s net profit rose 25 percent to 82.3 million euros in the second quarter this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2007.

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