Eastern opens 1st phase of $1 bln complex

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CAIRO: Egyptian cigarette monopoly Eastern Company has officially opened the first phase of its new LE 5.5 billion ($1 billion) industrial complex in Egypt’s Sixth of October city.

Eastern is supplying the finance for 51 percent of the project, with the rest from medium-term loans and financial leasing contracts, Eastern’s Chairman Nabil Abdel Aziz said at the opening ceremony of the new complex.

Eastern has spent to date LE 4.1 billion on the project, or 75 percent of the total estimated cost, he said. The complex will be completed by 2012.
"The production capacity of the (industrial) phase we are opening today is estimated at 35 million cigarettes a day, set to increase gradually with the installment and operation of the new production lines," Abdel Aziz said.

Eastern’s current annual production capacity is 90 billion cigarettes, in addition to other tobacco products it produces, he said. Eastern’s annual exports stand at LE 97 million, according to information provided by the company.

"The planned production capacity for this project took into consideration enough flexibility to meet market demand for local and foreign brands, joint production, and export," he said.

In addition to Eastern’s trademark brands such as Cleopatra cigarettes and tobacco, the firm makes higher-margin foreign brands for multinationals such as British American Tobacco and Philip Morris.

Eastern posted an unaudited net income of LE 405.1 million for the period from July to December, a 0.12 percent rise on the same period in 2008, when the firm made LE 404.6 million.

The firm said earlier in the week it had signed an agreement with a Jordanian firm to produce, market and distribute Eastern’s products in Jordan.

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By Reuters
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