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Cemex Backs Egypt Court Referral on Assiut Ownership Case

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- An Egyptian appeals court’s decision to refer a case over Cemex SAB’s ownership of Assiut Cement Co. to an administrative court is “a step in the right direction,” a spokesman for the Mexican company said.

Cemex looks forward to presenting its legal case and remains confident in its Egypt business, investor relations chief Maher Al-Haffar said today. The appeals court was due to rule on a 2012 preliminary decision canceling Cemex’s 1999 purchase of Assiut and returning the unit to state ownership.

“We’re going to be able to get to really go through the merits of our case,” Al-Haffar said in a telephone interview. “Assiut Cement continues to operate normally.”

The appeals court in the Southern Egyptian city of Assiut did not hear the case, Ali El-Adawi, the lawyer who filed the initial suit against Monterrey, Mexico-based Cemex, said by phone today. Cemex’s Egypt unit accounted for 11 percent of its 2012 operating earnings while only representing 3.2 percent of global sales, it said in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Apr. 24.

Cemex rose 0.7 percent to 16.59 pesos at the close in Mexico City. The shares’ 8.2 percent gain so far this year is the second-highest on the benchmark IPC index of 35 Mexican stocks.

The suit leading to the 2012 ruling was filed in May 2011 by two former employees of Assiut Cement, Cemex said. About 2 percent of the Mexican cement maker’s assets are in Egypt.

Two years ago, the Venezuelan government agreed to pay Cemex $600 million for the company’s local unit, which was nationalized by former President Hugo Chavez in 2008.

To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net; Brendan Case in Mexico City at bcase4@bloomberg.net; Abdel Latif Wahba in Cairo at alatifwahba@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net; Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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