India is the second largest producer of cement in the world. No wonder, India’s cement industry is a vital part of its economy, providing employment to more than a million people, directly or indirectly. Ever since it was deregulated in 1982, the Indian cement industry has attracted huge investments, both from Indian as well as foreign investors.
India has a lot of potential for development in the infrastructure and construction sector and the cement sector is expected to largely benefit from it. Some of the recent major government initiatives such as development of 98 smart cities are expected to provide a major boost to the sector.
Expecting such developments in the country and aided by suitable government foreign policies, several foreign players such as Lafarge-Holcim, Heidelberg Cement, and Vicat have invested in the country in the recent past. A significant factor which aids the growth of this sector is the ready availability of the raw materials for making cement, such as limestone and coal.
Cement prices in India recorded a 6.7 per cent month-on-month growth in April 2017, thereby indicating the probability of growth in volume and profitability of cement companies in the quarter ending June 2017.
The housing sector is the biggest demand driver of cement, accounting for about 67 per cent of the total consumption in India. The other major consumers of cement include infrastructure at 13 per cent, commercial construction at 11 per cent and industrial construction at 9 per cent.
The total capacity of the cement industry in India is 435 million tonnes (MT) and the growth of cement industry is expected to be 6-7 per cent in 2017 because of the government’s focus on infrastructural development. The industry is currently producing 280 MT for meetings its domestic demand and 5 MT for exports requirement. The country’s per capita consumption stands at around 225 kg.
The Indian cement industry is dominated by a few companies. The top 20 cement companies account for almost 70 per cent of the total cement production of the country. A total of 188 large cement plants together account for 97 per cent of the total installed capacity in the country, with 365 small plants account for the rest. Of these large cement plants, 77 are located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
On the back of growing demand, due to increased construction and infrastructural activities, the cement sector in India has seen many investments and developments in recent times.
According to data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), cement and gypsum products attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth US$ 5.24 billion between April 2000 and March 2017.
Some of the major investments in Indian cement industry are as follows:
- Emami Ltd, a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, plans to invest around Rs 8,500 crore (US$ 1.32 billion) to scale up its cement production capacity from 2.4 million tonnes (MT) to 15-20 MT in the next three to five years.
- The Gujarat-based Nirma group, with presence in detergent, soap and chemicals sector, has bought Lafarge India’s cement business, consisting of 11 MT production capacity, for US$ 1.4 billion.
- FLSmidth, a global engineering company based in Copenhagen, has signed a contract with India’s Larsen & Toubro Limited for engineering, procurement and supply of equipment for a complete cement production line with a capacity of 3,000 tonne in Tamil Nadu.
In the 12th Five Year Plan, the Government of India plans to increase investment in infrastructure to the tune of US$ 1 trillion and increase the industry’s capacity to 150 MT.
The Cement Corporation of India (CCI) was incorporated by the Government of India in 1965 to achieve self-sufficiency in cement production in the country. Currently, CCI has 10 units spread over eight states in India.
In order to help the private sector companies thrive in the industry, the government has been approving their investment schemes. Some such initiatives by the government in the recent past are as follows:
- The State Government of Chattisgarh has auctioned one block of Limestone (Kesla II) in Raipur District having estimated reserves of 215 million tonnes valued at Rs 10,367crore (US$ 1.61 billion), and would earn a cumulative revenue of Rs 11,894 crore (US$ 1.85 billion) to State Government over the lease period.
- The Union Budget proposed to assign infrastructure status to affordable housing projects and facilitate higher investments and better credit facilities, in line with the government’s aim to provide housing for all by 2022 which will boost cement demand.
- The Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, said that the National Housing Bank will refinance individual housing loans of about Rs 20,000 crore (US$ 3 billion) in 2017-18. The Finance Minister proposed to complete 1 crore houses by 2019. All these developments are expected to boost cement demand.
- The increased allocation to rural low-cost housing under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin scheme to Rs 23,000 crore (US$ 3.45 billion) from Rs 16,000 crore (US$ 2.4 billion) in FY17 is likely to drive a 2 per cent increase in cement demand, Ambit Capital said in a report.
The eastern states of India are likely to be the newer and virgin markets for cement companies and could contribute to their bottom line in future. In the next 10 years, India could become the main exporter of clinker and gray cement to the Middle East, Africa, and other developing nations of the world. Cement plants near the ports, for instance the plants in Gujarat and Visakhapatnam, will have an added advantage for exports and will logistically be well armed to face stiff competition from cement plants in the interior of the country.
Due to the increasing demand in various sectors such as housing, commercial construction and industrial construction, cement industry is expected to reach 550-600 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) by the year 2025.
A large number of foreign players are also expected to enter the cement sector, owing to the profit margins and steady demand. In future, domestic cement companies could go for global listings either through the FCCB route or the GDR route.
With help from the government in terms of friendlier laws, lower taxation, and increased infrastructure spending, the sector will grow and take India’s economy forward along with it.
Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.015 as of October 06, 2017.