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Alba's high profit margin cited.

Alba highlighted the completion of a decade since commissioning a petroleum coke calciner plant as the company reaffirmed its commitment to contributing to the metals sector and was cited as producing the second highest profit margin in the global aluminium industry. According to a research note prepared by Bahrain-based Securities and Investment Company (Sico), Alba had a profit margin of 18.4 per cent, beaten only by China Zhongwang Holdings, a relatively small player in the market, at a time when industry giants were facing far harder returns than the Bahrain operation. Big players such as Norsk Hydro in Norway, Alcoa in the US and Aluminium Corporation of China posted profit margins of 2.5 per cent, 1.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively. Notwithstanding the high profit margin, Alba has seen its share price fall 30 per cent in recent weeks on the back of a JP Morgan Cazenove downgrade on the stock following the latter's report that the smelter faced a rise in gas prices from 2012. Sico urged investors to take a reality check on the price increase concern, saying the current panic reaction was not justified as it was along expected lines though with an aggressive timeline. "Our analysis of Alba's cost structure suggests that natural gas costs account for around 10 to 15 per cent of the total cost of sales, while other materials like alumina and coke account for about 50 to 55 per cent," Sico stated. Alba's 10-year-old petroleum coke calciner plant has strengthened the smelter's strategy of self-reliance and eliminated the need to import calcined coke, the company's CEO Laurent Schmitt said. "Alba has been one of the pioneers in the industry and is credited to be one of two aluminium smelters in the world to have a dedicated petroleum coke calciner plant," remarked Schmitt who was commenting on Alba's participation at the second annual Asian Petcoke Conference which was held in Dubai in early October. The company's coke calciner plant was commissioned in May 2001 and was built on 140,000 sq m of reclaimed land at the smelter's marine terminal. Total annual production of calcined petroleum coke is 550,000 tonnes and the product is used as a major raw material for making carbon anodes used in the aluminium smelting process. Alba provided sponsorship support for the petcoke conference, saying it signified its commitment to remain closely involved with ongoing developments in the petcoke market at both the regional and global levels.

Petcoke shift The conference was held under the theme Impending Change. It looked at the implications of the gradual shift of the petcoke industry from West to East and examined how this change impacted the industry as a whole. A galaxy of distinguished speakers representing leading international companies dealing with petcoke addressed some of the issues and challenges facing the industry. Present at the conference were Alba's manager for procurement and warehousing Ali Al Baqali and the manager for strategic supply and planning, Marius Esterhuizen. Schmitt said Alba was proud to support a conference that examined the implications of the potential shift of the petcoke industry from West to East. "With distinguished speakers from across the world, the conference provided a platform to discuss some of the evolving strategies, new paradigms and challenges that would accompany any change in the past 40 years," he added. Alba has been consistently ranked as one of the largest aluminium smelters in the world and is known for its technological strength, global competitiveness and innovative policies. The smelter produces more than 860,000 tonnes per year of aluminium which meet or exceed the industry standard for purity with products including standard and T-ingots, extrusion billets, rolling slab, propertzi ingots and molten aluminium.

LME Week Alba participated in the London Metal Exchange (LME) Week, the largest annual gathering of the cream of the mining and metals world. "In the 40 years since Alba began operations, we have appreciated the pivotal role that LME plays in regulating the price mechanism of aluminium and other non-ferrous metals, ensuring that business is conducted in an orderly manner and protecting the interests of all those involved in the metals trade," said Alba chairman Mahmood Al Kooheji. "We're confident that -- as always -- the LME Week will provide tremendous opportunities to learn about developments in the industry, gain insights on the challenges that the industry currently faces, examine solutions that will help the industry and, most importantly, provide networking possibilities with industry peers."

In other Alba-related developments, Alba provided sponsorship to the Invest in Bahrain forum that took place at the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre, saying it was an endorsement of the company's confidence in Bahrain as an attractive economic destination for international investors. The Invest in Bahrain forum was organised under the patronage of the Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. It was also backed by Tamkeen, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Central Bank of Bahrain, the Economic Development Board, Bahrain, and the Federation of GCC Chambers. Commenting on Alba's sponsorship of the Invest in Bahrain forum, Al Kooheji said: "Alba's 40-year legacy as one of the world's leading aluminium smelters has been made possible thanks to the forward thinking and investor-friendly economic policies in the kingdom as well as through the guidance of its political leadership in developing a strong and modern industrial state. Alba's support for the Invest in Bahrain forum stems from our own experience in having grown from being the first aluminium smelter in the region to the company's current position as the fourth largest single site smelter in the world." Alba also provided sponsorship to the first Middle East Process Engineering Conference and Exhibition that was held in Bahrain under the patronage of Bahrain's Energy Minister, Dr Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza.

Alba's process control manager Avinash Mittal made a presentation on "Quality Improvement Techniques" at the conference. The company has made a donation to the Bahrain chapter of AIESEC, which stands for the Association Internationale des [euro][umlaut]tudiants en Sciences [euro][umlaut]conomiques et Commerciales. AIESEC is known to be one of the world's largest student-run organisations and is engaged in offering learning opportunities through leadership roles, internship opportunities and seminars and conferences. Schmitt presented the donation cheque to Mohammed Al Subaiee, a member of the AIESEC board. Present on the occasion were the association's president Ines Baricevic and a member Isa Hadi.

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Publication:Gulf Industry
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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