Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 11:54 UK

Slowdown sends Cemex profit lower

Chavez in tractor
President Huge Chavez (middle) wants nationalisation in several sectors

Mexican cement giant Cemex has seen its quarterly profits slump, following an economic slowdown and Venezuela's nationalisation of the cement sector.

Cemex said it faced a "challenging" operating environment.

Profits slipped 74% year-on-year to $200m (115.9m) in the three months to the end of September, from $780m a year earlier, while sales fell 5% to $5.8bn.

Cemex's assets in Venezuela were seized as part of President Hugo Chavez's wide-ranging nationalisation programme.

"We are living in a time of extraordinary volatility in the financial markets in a challenging operating environment in several of the countries in which we operate," said Hector Medina, the firm's executive vice president for planning and finance.

Sales fell sharply in the US, down 28% year-on-year, while sales in Britain were 19% lower and Spanish sales fell 26%.

The firm has felt the impact of slowing demand and there have also been worries over the firm's high level of debt after it bought Australian firm Rinker in 2007.

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