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24/11/2012 01:59:00

Swiss Cement Company Holcim to Build $600 Million Factory in Colombia

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By Dan Molinski

BOGOTA, Colombia--Swiss cement and building materials maker Holcim Ltd. (HOLN.VX) plans to build a $600 million factory in Colombia, according to Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos.

"Holcim informed me of a $600 million investment" in a new plant, Mr. Santos said Friday in a statement, adding the move will mean more jobs in Colombia and less poverty.

No one at Holcim was immediately available for comment.

Holcim officials are in Colombia's coastal resort city of Cartagena this week for a conference on infrastructure.

Colombia, Latin America's fourth-largest economy, plans to invest $55 billion on much-needed infrastructure projects between now and 2021, or 19% of gross domestic product, according to a report out this week from Deutsche Bank. The spending spree, on highways, oil infrastructure and other projects, would be the highest proportion of spending Colombia has ever devoted for infrastructure.

The massive investments planned by Colombia have begun to attract cement and other construction-related companies from around the globe. Last week, shares of Cemex Latam Holdings SA (CLH.BO), a new unit of Mexican cement giant Cemex SAB (CX, CEMEX.MX), began trading on the Colombian Stock Exchange.

Holcim and Cemex Latam have to compete with local firm Cementos Argos SA (CEMARGOS.BO), the country's largest cement producer.

The investment plan by Holcim in Colombia comes in the same week reports surfaced that Holcim plans to cut almost a third of its work force in Spain following a slump in that country's building market.

Write to Dan Molinski at dan.molinski@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 23, 2012 19:59 ET (00:59 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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