Bestway Cement Limited is part of the Bestway Group of the United Kingdom. Bestway Group was founded by Sir Mohammed Anwar Pervez nearly thirty three years ago on what could be best described as one man’s vision and passion. Since then it has translated into a unique and successful group of businesses spread across the globe with the help of committed, professional and hardworking management and staff, together with loyal customers and suppliers. The Group has a well diversified portfolio incorporating within its folds cement manufacturing, global banking, wholesale cash & carry business, a string of retail outlets, real estate investment, ethnic food and beverage import and distribution and milling of rice. Recently the group has embarked upon a large power generation project in Pakistan thus further diversifying its operations and revenue base.
Bestway Group is an example of a dynamic enterprise. Over the last three decades the Group has achieved remarkable success and positioned itself amongst United Kingdom’s top 10 privately owned companies.
Bestway is U.K’s second largest cash and carry operator in terms of turnover with group annual turnover in excess of US Dollars 3.6 billion and profits in excess of US Dollars 135 million; the second largest cement producer in Pakistan and joint owner of Pakistan’s third largest bank, United Bank Limited. Its rice milling facilities are one of the largest of its kind in the country. The group is the largest overseas Pakistani investor with investments in excess of US Dollars 1 billion and a global workforce of over 22,000 people spread over four continents.
In response to successive governments’ efforts to attract foreign investment in the country Bestway Group has invested heavily in Pakistan. In just over a decade Bestway’s cement production capacity is set to more than quadruple to over 6.0 million tonnes per annum, making Bestway the second largest cement producer in the country.
In early 1992 when the Group decided to set up its first cement plant it faced multiple challenges mainly due to a lack of credibility as a business due to the absence of a track record in Pakistan. The domestic economy was highly inhospitable characterized by high interest rates, high inflation and low liquidity leading to a general economic and political inertia. It has however successfully exhibited its managerial dynamism and technical excellence in setting up and managing the manufacturing facilities and achieving market dominance through its diversification strategy by investing in the local cement industry and continues to be bullish about Pakistan.
Even during the period of economic slowdown and recession in the country in the late 1990’s which adversely affected the profitability of the industry Bestway was able to record pre tax profits even at 60% capacity utilization. The Company has been amongst the leaders in the recent market boom, operating at above 100% of its installed capacity.
Bestway Cement Hattar
In 1994 work was started on the cement plant in the under developed area of Hattar, Haripur in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. This was an initial investment of US$120 million. The contract for the supply of main plant was signed with Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan in June 1995. The suppliers sub contracted some of the equipment to other international manufacturers, namely the crushers to FAM of Germany, Cement mill to Fuller of USA and electrical and instrumentation to ABB of Switzerland and Siemens of Germany. Civil works started in January 1996 and the Kiln was fired in April 1998, which is a record in itself.
Plant Conversion to Gas
Prior to 2001 production at Bestway Cement was being carried out using furnace oil as fuel. The management’s proactive decision in anticipation of a further hike in oil prices lead to modification of its plant to operate on natural gas. These were the first steps in achieving a cost efficient production process and ultimately the production process was converted to coal with a further investment of approximately US$10 million.
Plant Conversion to Coal
The machinery for coal conversion was procured from IPPR Engineering of China while some of the fabrication and erection work was done locally. The whole project was supervised by a highly skilful team of Chinese engineers alongside the Company’s own engineers. The entire project from signing the agreement to commissioning was completed within a record period of 10 months. The Company has also set up its own coal testing and analysis laboratory, which is equipped with the most up-to-date equipment to ensure that only quality coal is used in the process to prevent undesired operational and environmental effects. Conversion to natural gas and then to coal has significantly reduced the energy cost component, which at times constituted about 65% of the total production cost.
Bestway’s proactive management has kept the Company one step ahead of its competitors. The timely and strategic decisions of the management have enabled the Company to maintain its current market share of around 8% and its position as the lead exporter.
Hattar plant’s initial capacity was 1.0 million tonnes per annum. In 2002, at a cost of US$20 million, plant capacity was enhanced to 1.15 million tonnes per annum to meet the ever increasing demand for quality cement.
Owing to the management’s insight on growing market demand and the potential to export, in 2004 the plant’s capacity was further upgraded to 1.25 million tonnes of clinker production.
Listing on KSE
Despite all the challenges the cement plant, since it’s commissioning in October 1998, has been generating positive cash flows. Bestway Cement was listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange in February 2001 and since listing its market capitalisation has grown by approximately 850% making Bestway Cement one of the largest companies by market capitalization. Bestway Cement Hattar continues to play a key role in the local economy, providing direct employment to over 600 people with a further 1,500 jobs being created in the transportation of cement from the plant. Due to its prudent policies and professional management Bestway has been one of the most profitable entities in the industry since it commenced commercial operations in 1998 making substantial contributions to the public exchequer through direct and indirect taxes.
The Company has been able to maintain its status as a market leader due to superior product quality, effective marketing, customer focus and staff dedication. Prior to the commissioning of Chakwal-I and Mustehkam Cement, Bestway enjoyed more than 8% of the market share of the domestic market. Successful introduction of its brand in Afghanistan and more recently in India, Africa and Middle East has made Bestway one of the largest exporters of cement in Pakistan.
Bestway Cement Chakwal-I
In February 2004 owing to the growth in market demand, Bestway Group took the strategic decision of expanding its operations through the setting up of a 1.8 million tonnes per annum cement plant near Village Tatral of District Chakwal, Punjab Province, Pakistan. This is the Group’s second Greenfield development project at a cost of US$ 140 million.
The Company started its land acquisition in June 2004 and civil constructions in January 2005. The plant specifications were compiled by Bestway’s own engineers selecting the best equipments available. The raw-mill and coal-mill has been supplied by Loesche, fans by Venti, gear boxes by Flender, Switch Gear by ABB, Bucket Elevators by Aumund, Motors, Motor Control Systems and Automation by Siemens of Germany.
In April 2005, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Shaukat Aziz performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the plant. Civil works for Bestway Chakwal were initiated in January 2005, the Kiln was fired in May 2006 and the plant went into production in June 2006 which is an industry record. During the planning and construction phase the company took all the necessary steps to guarantee that the plant and machinery not only met the local and international environmental standards but also exceeded them.
Bestway Cement Chakwal-I has led to the direct and indirect creation of jobs for more than 2,000 jobs - injecting a new lease of life in one of the most economically dispossessed parts of Pakistan.
To further extend its presence in the cement industry, Bestway decided to bid for 85.29% of equity of Mustehkam Cement Limited a 0.6 million tonnes per annum capacity plant, following an offering by the Privatisation Commission, Government of Pakistan. The company’s bid of approximately US$70.0 million was accepted in September 2005. Mustehkam’s plant is in close vicinity of our existing operations in Hattar, District Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Though the production of the enterprise had been discontinued in 1999, due to the hard work and dedication of our local staff and management, Mustehkam started production in December 2005 – one month after acquisition.
Capacity Enhancement and Modernisation
Mustehkam Cement has a glorious past with the company winning best performance awards from the local stock exchanges. Through increased investments in capacity and plant upgradation Bestway seeks to return past glory to Mustehkam Cement.
Recently, Bestway has embarked upon a major upgradation and modernization of Mustehkam. In the initial phase, one of the process lines at Mustehkam is being upgraded to a capacity of 0.9 million tonnes per annum at an estimated cost of US Dollars 50 million. This enhancement is being carried out mainly with the assistance of FL Smidth and will take the total production capacity at Mustehkam to above 1.2 million tonnes per annum of clinker. Planning is already in progress to upgrade and enhance the remaining production lines also.
Bestway Cement Chakwal-II
In May 2006 the Group announced plans for the establishment of a second 1.8 million tonnes per annum capacity plant adjacent to our existing operations in Chakwal at a cost of US$180.0 million. This would be Bestway’s third Greenfield cement plant in Pakistan. This would be an identical plant to the existing Line-1, having 1.8 million tonnes capacity.
By the end of the first quarter of 2008, through these investments, the Group’s cement manufacturing capacity is set to exceed 6.0 million tonnes per annum, making Bestway the second largest cement producer in the country.
Environment a top Priority
Bestway’s plants are environmentally friendly with emission standards that far exceed prevailing acceptable standards, both local and international. The plants’ emission levels are 50 microns whereas the Government of Pakistan’s acceptable standards are 300 microns and international standards are 100 microns per cubic meter of air at NTP.
Bestway Cement is driven by high standards of efficiency and quality. Strict quality control procedures are applied to ensure that these aims are achieved. The best quality control equipment in Pakistan is in use at its plants. Apart from the usual equipment, Bestway’s laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art X-ray Fluorescent Analyzer and Diffractometer technology. Bestway Group was a pioneer in introducing this technology in Pakistan for the first time. By virtue of this equipment, the Company has been able to consistently produce better quality cement than is currently available in the country. Since inception, Bestway has been producing Portland cement of specifications far superior to the Pakistani, Indian, British and American standards.