Metal manufacturer Sidenor expects to invest more than 26 billion drachmas this year to upgrade its facilities and improve its production capacity, the company told the Association of Institutional Investors yesterday. The company said that investment spending in the first half of the year amounted to 23 billion drachmas. Last year’s entire investment outlay came to just 15 billion. Part of this year’s funds have gone to subsidiary Sovel, which completed the construction of a steel mill and metal sheet factory at a total cost of 37 billion drachmas. The first plant has a production capacity of 600,000 tons and the latter a production capacity of 530,000 tons. The new facilities should help the company cut raw material costs. The investment program also includes the construction of a pipe-making plant at Almiro, jointly operated by Sidenor and Sovel. Scheduled to be completed this year, the factory is expected to produce 25,000 to 120,000 tons of pipes. Sovel is also building a plant at Almiro, which should be able to manufacture 65,000 tons of iron grid. The Kilkis wire-making factory will see its production capacity increase to 20,000-32,000 tons after an investment boost from the company. The metal manufactuer said that production facilities also increased significantly after the acquisition of a 75 percent stake in Stomana Industry, a Bulgarian operation. Sidenor reported consolidated pretax profits of 3.8 billion drachmas for the first half of the year, up by 8 percent. Turnover increased by 4 percent to 57 billion drachmas.