East Meets West on Their Home Court

Under the watch of construction workers building yet another high-rise apartment building, which are continually springing up in Shanghai, busses and taxis discharged thousands of focused businessmen and women. Despite the steady rain showers, more than 80,000 attendees crowded into the Shanghai New International Expo Centre for bauma China 2006.

The third Chinese edition of the Munich-based construction show was its most successful. Exhibitor participation increased by more than 50% and the number of attendees increased more than 60% compared to the 2004 show. “This result exceeded all our expectations,” said Eugene Egetenmeir, deputy managing director of the Munich Trade Fairs International Group, the show's organizer.

While touted as an international show, this year's version had a stronger local flavor. Of the 1088 exhibitors, 732 were from the host country. Even more interesting, there was a 76% increase in space purchased by Chinese companies. Attendees met 505 Chinese national companies and 227 Foreign Invested Enterprises, suggesting a fast-growing local construction equipment economy.

Interest in U.S. exhibitors also seemed strong. “If you're not here, you're missing out,” said Pat Boeshart, president of Lite-Form Technologies, a Sioux City, Neb., manufacturer of insulating concrete forms (ICF). Boeshart and his team hosted crowds of businessmen from all of Asia and taught them the advantages of constructed ICF structures. “There's a definite interest in American technology and products,” said Boeshart. Chinese and Asian contractors also crowded Terex's outdoor booth, the largest U.S. contractor-equipment exhibitor.

bauma China hosted a number of technical seminars. One of the most popular was a daylong series of presentations on concrete block production. More than 100 producers and engineers discussed topics such as mixing equipment, admixtures, and the potential increasing use of supplementary cementitous materials.

Like their North American counterparts, the liveliest discussions involved proposed changes to national block specifications regarding strength and appearance. This proves again that for concrete produces everywhere, the water-cement ratio is the truest common element. For more visit www.bauma-china.com.

Rinker to Cemex: No Deal

The year 2006 was drawing to a close with Rinker Group continuing to dismiss Cemex's $13 per share, $13 billion offer. John Morschel, chairman of Rinker, called the offer “opportunistic and far too low. Shareholders should not surrender their stake in a company that is generating excellent returns now and has excellent prospects.”

Rinker of Australia cited a report by Grant Samuel & Associates, which values Rinker's shares at between $20.50 and $23.04. “Accepting the Cemex offer of $13 a share would be effectively giving Cemex a free option on recovery of the residential housing sector in Rinker's key United States market,” said the report. Rinker's board unanimously rejected the offer.

Cemex responded on Dec. 1 that its offer was fair, citing slowing end-use markets such as Florida, “where the housing bubble is now bursting.” Adding intrigue are various reports stating that Rinker is exploring a merger with U.K-based Hanson. Before the bid for Rinker, many thought Mexico-based Cemex was eyeing Hanson. Visit www.cemex.com and www.rinker.com.

Associations in the Mix ACPA

The Indiana Chapter of the American Concrete Pavement Association is forming and funding an Applied Concrete Research Initiative. Indiana's concrete pavement industry, including contractors, cement manufacturers, ready-mix producers, equipment manufacturers, and related suppliers, have committed more than $1.25 million over the next five years to fund two full-time research and education positions at Purdue University. Contact Mike Byers, executive director of the Indiana chapter at mbyers@pavement.com. Visit www.pavement.com.