ERJ staff report (PR)
Abidjan, Ivory Coast – The current decline in natural rubber prices has taken its toll on sales and earnings at agro-industrial business SIFCA, though the West Africa-based group is preparing the ground for better times ahead.
SIFCA, which grows, processes and markets vegetable oil, natural rubber and sugar cane, reported a 60-percent year-on-year decline in profits to €36.5 million for 2013, on consolidated net sales of €779 million - 5 percent lower than in 2012.
The declines, said SIFCA, were mainly due to the fall in world rubber prices, which were on average 33 percent lower than in 2012. They were also, though, affected by a special tax on sales in the rubber business in the Ivory Coast.
"This is not the first time that our group is facing a decline in world prices. SIFCA bases are strong and our African ambitions are not aligned on cyclical developments in one of our businesses," said Pierre Billon, the group's chairman.
Meanwhile SIFCA is diversifying its activities, having last year launched an eight-year, €318.5-million investment plan to increases production of palm oil and develop energy generation from biomass.
This diversification will allow the group to overcome a cyclical decline in one of our activities, according to Bertrand Vignes, CEO of SIFCA, noting strong fundamentals in the region.
"The deficit of palm oil production is 800,000 tonnes per year in West Africa, the market therefore offers significant growth margins," said Vignes.
"On rubber plantations, despite fluctuations, renewals and extensions of our plantations in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire [offer] an important growth potential in the coming years," he added.
Founded in 1964 in Abidjan, SIFCA has locations in the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria and France and employs over 25,000 people.