Alba plots 2014 path: executive

Jan 03, 2014 | 08:30 AM | Jethro Wookey

Tags  Alba, Aluminium Bahrain, aluminum, downstream, Tim Murray

LONDON — After the rapid growth of its primary aluminum industry, the Middle East is looking to build up its downstream sector.

The Middle East has always lacked an adequate downstream industry. Though some companies in the region ply the further reaches of the value chain, they do not compare with the size of the primary producers. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations account for about 10 percent of the world’s primary aluminum production but only about 3 percent of its downstream products, and have almost no industry in the end-use sectors.

That is now changing after a number of market participants and government officials spoke of the need to address this imbalance—to maximize value and generate employment opportunities—at the 2013 Arabal conference in Abu Dhabi in November.

But although several delegates said at the time that the region’s primary aluminum smelters could expand their operations further downstream to fill the gap, Aluminium Bahrain BSC (Alba) chief executive officer Tim Murray backs a different approach.

"Governments are in a much better position to grow the downstream industry than smelters," he said, pointing to the growth of the primary industry as a model. Alba is majority-owned by the state’s investment arm, Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co., while its second-largest shareholder is itself 70-percent owned by the Saudi Arabian government.....

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