Bank Sohar signs $45m deal for gypsum project

June 12, 2013

Muscat – Bank Sohar SAOG and USG-Zawawi Group recently signed a USD 45 Million financing agreement to set up and run a Gypsum Quarry and state of the art Gypsum Board manufacturing plant in the Sultanate. The manufacturing facility will be located in the Salalah Free Zone in the Dhofar Governorate. It will add further value to Oman’s mining & mineral industry and will provide job opportunities to the people of the Dhofar region.

USG Corporation, USA was incorporated in 1901 and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and operates multi-billion dollar gypsum manufacturing and distribution of high-performance building systems like gypsum wallboard, joint products and compound and a vast array of related products for the construction and remodeling industries. USG Corporation is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of gypsum board, ceiling suspension grids and ceiling tile. USG’s family of products provides creative building solutions that set new standards for productivity and efficiency, helping contractors and architects deliver high quality and innovative designs. USG’s Industry Leading Brands are Interior Panels and Substrates: SHEETROCK® Brand Gypsum Board, DUROCK® Cement Board and SECUROCK® Glass-Mat Sheathing. Their major shareholders include renowned investors like Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathway Corporation Inc) and Prem Watsa (Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd). Zawawi Minerals LLC is a Sultanate of Oman based company which belongs to Qais Zawawi Group, Sultanate of Oman. Zawawi Minerals is engaged in exploring and trading high quality Industrial minerals and metal ores, like Limestone, Gypsum, Dolomite, and Chrome Ore.

USG’s partnership with Zawawi Minerals has established two joint venture companies namely Zawawi Gypsum LLC and USG-Zawawi Drywall LLC SFZ. The first joint venture develop infrastructure and operates a gypsum quarry while the second joint venture will build and operate a new gypsum board manufacturing plant which will be located in the Salalah Free Zone. The manufacturing plant which is to be set up in the Salalah Free Zone will be designed to achieve annual capacity of 8 million square meters of Gypsum Board in the first phase. In second phase the Gypsum board capacity may be scaled up to 16 million square meters per year in accordance with future demand. Under the joint venture arrangement, USG Corporation brings with them world class expertise in mining and gypsum board manufacturing technologies perfected over its 100 years of experience in the industry. As an additional element, USG Corporation will transfer world class American technologies and skills into both Omani operations of gypsum mining and gypsum board manufacturing, thereby contributing to the nation’s industrial competence.

The Top Officials of Bank Sohar SAOG led by Dr. Mohamed Abdul Aziz Kalmoor, CEO and other senior officials were present at the signing Ceremony. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mohamed Abdul Aziz Kalmoor, CEO commented “Bank Sohar SAOG has emerged as a leading Bank in the Sultanate. It has become a front runner in arranging and financing landmark deals that generate foreign exchange for the country”. The Bank supports projects by private and globally respected entities that encourage economic growth and generate local employment.

David Rick Lowes, senior vice president, Business Development and Operational Services, USG Corporation, USA and the Chairman of the JVs, commended the Local banks for support to such projects and stated that this would encourage bilateral investment opportunities between the Sultanate and the United States of America.

Alawi bin Qais Al Zawawi, Chairman of Zawawi Minerals said that “Zawawi Minerals is committed to invest and participate in the industrial promotion of the nation, supporting the development march witnessed under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said”. “Part of our corporate agenda is our commitment and responsibility to adopt and deliver high international standards of operations for a safe and healthy environment for the local communities. This also includes bringing substantial, long-term benefits and job opportunities to the people of the Dhofar region. In addition, our mining and manufacturing projects in Salalah will enhance valuable foreign exchange earnings for the country as these operations are mostly export oriented. The combination of US-standard wallboard with ‘Made-in- Oman’ branding would enhance the brand image of Oman in the international marketplace”, he added.

“Zawawi Minerals is committed to protecting the environment wherever the company is exploring for new resources, developing or operating mines. We have developed and work within a framework which addresses the needs of the environment, local communities and the economy. The Company is also in the process of exploring the opportunities for setting up a mineral processing complex and facilities for Limestone, Dolomite and other potential minerals in Sultanate of Oman. Our vision is to be the most valued and respected mining and minerals processing company through industry leading performance”, added by Ramachandran, CEO, and Zawawi Minerals LLC.