Heracles hopes exports will offset slowdown at home

Greek cement producer Heracles, majority-owned by France’s Lafarge group, aims to focus on exports to offset an expected slowdown in the domestic market, it said yesterday. Consumption in Greece is estimated to decline by 5 percent this year following the completion of Olympic Games-related projects, Greece’s largest cement producer said, adding that it plans to continue cost-cutting measures started last year. It aims to modernize its plants, reduce labor costs and cut energy costs by using alternative energy sources. On reports that the National Bank of Greece plans to sell its 26.4 percent stake in Heracles as part of a plan to trim non-core activities, a company spokesman said any decision was up to the shareholders. «This is an issue purely between National Bank and Lafarge,» Costas Asimakopoulos said. Lafarge has said it is broadly interested in buying the bank’s stake. Heracles has three cement plants in Greece, with total annual production capacity of 9.6 million tons. The shares closed 0.43 percent up at 9.28 euros yesterday, in sight of a year-high of 9.44 euros set on December 7. (Reuters)