“Our company is not widely known because its products are not immediately visible,” said Gilles Michel, the chairman and chief executive of the French multinational group, at a press conference yesterday. For the first time since the French Group acquired S & B in 2014, the 61-year-old manager from Marseilles “laid his cards on the table” about the French giant’s activity and footprint in Greece.
As he said, shortly after the acquisition of S & B was completed he was faced with the imposition of capital controls and the threat of Greece leaving the Eurozone. However, “All this is behind us, I think that Greece is on the path to growth,” he noted.
“We continued investing in Greece in the past two years. Our investments in Greece were made in an extremely difficult time for the country, and our decision was a clear vote of confidence. We never lost our confidence in the Greek economy and the ability of Greeks to overcome the crisis and return to economic stability and sustainable growth.” he said.
But who is Imerys?
Last year, the group had a turnover of 4.1 billion euros and a net profit of 582.1 million euros. It is a world leader in specialised mineral products, the “hard core” of its activity is treating mineral resources (clay, bentonite, diatomite, kaolin etc), implementing industrial formulas (eg ceramic bodies) and producing synthetic minerals (eg synthetic graphite).
Imerys is a world leader in ceramics for bathrooms, additives such as graphite and carbon, wollastonite and talc used in paints, fused minerals (used for abrasives), talc used in the field of aesthetics and perlite and diatomite used in filtering. In France, Imerys is the No. 1 company for clay tiles.
Turning to the energy solutions industry and specialised products, the French group creates mineral solutions used in papermaking (carbonates), in high temperature industries (monolithic refractories) and in oil and gas extraction (ceramic bearings).
The French giant has developed talc products for polymer applications, especially for the automotive industry, graphite and carbon used in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for mobile electronics, while its perlite and diatomite based filtering solutions allow wine producers to optimise critical stages in their production. It has also developed a new ceramic product to produce finer and lighter bathroom ceramics.
Investments in Greece
Imerys in Greece is export-oriented and contributes over 120 million in currency exchanges to the national economy. It has also created about 1,000 direct and indirect jobs. The company in Greece has a turnover of 150 million euros, exports 80% of its products, invests € 18 million annually and has a technology centre and three quality control laboratories. It manufactures four kinds of industrial minerals and ores (bentonite, perlite, calcium carbonates and bauxite), has 21 surface and underground mines, six processing plants and cooperates with six loading ports.
In 2014, Imerys acquired S & B, which has a presence in 22 countries. This led to the Kyriakopoulos family having a 5% share in the share capital of the French company.
S & B was a major global player in the field of industrial minerals with a presence in 22 countries worldwide and a unique portfolio of mineral resources.
As Michel said today, Imerys Greece (formerly S & B Greece) is the world’s largest producer of pre-treated perlite and the world’s largest exporter of bentonite “exploiting the excellent quality mineral resources and the processing plants in Milos.” Almost all the company’s products are exported.
The French giant has a strong presence in Northern Greece and is the largest employer in Fokida and Milos.
With the acquisition of Kerneos (finalised last July), Imerys owns ELMIN Bauxites, a company which is active in the extraction and trading of bauxite and has a large number of privately owned and leased concessions in central Greece. Kerneos is the largest bauxite producer in Europe, exporting almost 45% of its production to Europe, Africa and America, “supporting Greek industry and domestic aluminium metallurgy”.
In 2016 Kerneos, which is valued at € 880 million, announced revenue of € 417 million and an operating profit (ebitda) of € 99 million.
Also, the French giant has shares in Industrial Minerals of Greece SA, in Kavala, a major producer of calcium carbonate, which exports almost 70% of its production.
Imerys has nurseries in Milos which produce 25,000 plants annually, and in Fokida which produce 30,000 plants including local, endemic and rare species.
[SOURCE: http://www.capital.gr/, by Dimitris Delevengos, 5/10/2017]