Tue, Jun 25, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Asia Cement counting on PRC unit’s sales

SHAREHOLDER PROTEST:Hualien County resident Cheng Wen-chuan asked chairman Douglas Hsu to set a timetable for ending Sincheng Township mining

By Kwan Shin-han  /  Staff reporter

Protesters hold up banners during Asia Cement Corp’s shareholders’ meeting in Taipei yesterday, demanding that chairman Douglas Hsu set a timetable for ending operations in Sincheng Township, Hualien County.

Photo: CNA

Sales in China are expected to grow steadily this year on the back of high cement prices and favorable governmental measures, while sales from its Taiwanese operations would rebound later this year despite fierce competition, Asia Cement Corp (亞洲水泥) said yesterday.

“The Chinese government is expected to expand infrastructure projects this year,” Asia Cement chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) said after the company’s annual general meeting in Taipei.

The real-estate market in China grew steadily in the first half of the year, thanks to the relaxation of household registration system, but the growth might slow in the second half, the company said.

While cement demand in China would fall this year by about 5 percent annually to 2.1 billion tonnes, prices are expected to remain high as the Chinese government continues a policy to avoid overproduction and plans to ban the use of low-grade cement, starting in October, Hsu said.

Asia Cement reported consolidated revenue in the first five months of the year climbed 15.26 percent to NT$36.26 billion (US$1.17 million) from NT$31.46 billion a year earlier.

Its Chinese subsidiary, Asia Cement (China) Holdings Corp (亞泥中國), contributed about NT$11.52 billion, or 59.41 percent, of its total cement sales the first quarter, company data showed.

The cement business in Taiwan in the past few years has seen fierce competition and overproduction, the company said.

“We expect sales in Taiwan to grow 3 percent year-on-year, as cement demand is expected to increase from about 10 million tonnes last year to 11 million tonnes this year,” Asia Cement president Lee Kun-yen (李坤炎) said.

More public construction projects for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program would help boost sales in the coming years, Lee said.

At the meeting, some Aborigines and members of environmental groups raised banners demanding the transformation of the company’s mining site in Hualien County’s Sincheng Township (新城), protesting the extension of the firm’s mining rights in the county to 2037.

They called on Hsu to set a timetable for stopping work at the site.

Shareholder Cheng Wen-chuan (鄭文泉), a resident of the county’s Fushih Village (富世), said villagers have been hearing of explosions at the site for more than half an hour every day, even on weekends.

“They blew up the mountains trying to get sand and gravel, but the site is close to the old tribe, where our ancestors were buried,” Cheng said.

“Our ancestors’ bones were made into cement,” he said.

“Please think about us and the environment when you receive your cash dividend,” Cheng told other shareholders at the meeting.

Hsu did not respond with a timeframe for ending operations at the site, saying only that Asia Cement came to help develop Hualien’s economy and create jobs for local residents.

It launched a greening project and established an ecological park, he added.

Shareholders approved the distribution of a cash dividend of NT$2.8 per share, suggesting a payout ratio of 79.1 percent based on last year’s earnings per share of NT$3.54.

That was a dividend yield of 5.9 percent based on the stock’s closing price of NT$47.45 yesterday, up 40.38 percent this year.

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