Guatemala’s Cementos Progreso Expands into Costa Rica, El Salvador

The Guatemalan company is buying up Cemex assets in the two Central American countries, expanding its presence to seven markets

Located in Guatemala's San Juan Sacatepéquez department, Cementos Progreso's plant required an investment of $1 billion and produces 3 million tons of cement annually.
March 21, 2022 | 11:25 AM

Guatemala City — Guatemalan cement producer Cementos Progreso is expanding across Central America with a tranche of acquisitions in Costa Rica and El Salvador valued at $335 million.

The assets being purchased include a cement plant, a cement mill, seven pre-mixed concrete plants, an aggregates quarry and a distribution center in each of the two countries.

“As part of the regional expansion process, we are executing a strategy of searching for investment opportunities in new markets,” Cementos Progreso’s CEO José Raúl González Merlo told Bloomberg Línea.

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González Merlo added that, as the company enters Costa Rica and El Salvador, it will continue to seek opportunities that generate value for all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, communities, and governments.

“With this [expansion] we now have operations in seven countries. We are adding highly professional teams to the Cementos Progreso family, and we will continue to act responsibly with the environment, with all our customers, suppliers, communities and other stakeholders,” González Merlo said.

Transports a maximum of 2,100 tons per hour of limestone and marl from the quarry to Cementos Progreso's San Gabriel plant located in San Juan Sacatepéquez.dfd

The seven countries in which the company operates are Guatemala, Belize (since 2021), El Salvador (since 2022), Honduras, Costa Rica (since 2022), Panama (since 2020) and Colombia.

The closing of this transaction is subject to due approvals and other conditions, and which are expected to be obtained in the first half of this year.

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“We are waiting for the authorities to approve the transaction,” González Merlo said.

Currently, the company’s cement production in Guatemala amounts to 3.6 million tons, according to end-2021 data.

In Central America as a whole, capacity is 5.3 million tons per year, which includes Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Panama, and Colombia.

The operations in Costa Rica and El Salvador will increase the company’s cement tonnage by 15% to 6 million tons, the company said.

“In this way, Cementos Progreso consolidates its regional leadership,” González Merlo said.

Cementos Progreso was founded in 1899, and produces and markets cement, concrete, lime, and other construction products and services. It has more than a century of experience in the industry and has been recognized for its high quality standards in production.

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Social Impact Expansion

Panamanian-born Mariano Rivera, a former professional pitcher for the New York Yankees baseball team and five-time World Series champion, recently visited Guatemala to learn about the sports-educational programs of Cementos Progreso and the Carlos F. Novella Foundation.

Since 1998, the Mariano Rivera Foundation has been dedicated to providing university scholarships, tutoring and special learning programs, among others, empowering and helping students to prepare for university and for work.

In the short term, the idea is to establish an alliance that will allow them to work on behalf of the children of Guatemala and the region, through education, technology and sports programs.

This program goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of the company, with the aim of contributing to improving the quality of life of people in each country where it operates, contributing to human development, according to the company.

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The former professional baseball player with Cementos Progreso CEO Raúl González-Merlo, and Cecilia Dougherty, president of the Carlos F. Novella Foundation.dfd

Some of the joint projects that the Mariano Rivera Foundation and Cementos Progreso have carried out are the construction of a dining hall and a church in Honduras; and the construction of classrooms for schools in Panama.

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“Now I no longer save games, now I save lives. If we focus our efforts on providing opportunities from childhood, despite the circumstances in which children are immersed, under comprehensive education programs based on principles and values, we will achieve the most transcendent purpose of our lives: to provide the possibility of creating a better future in the societies we impact,” Mariano Rivera said during his visit to Guatemala.

San Juan Sacatepéquez was one of the places visited by Mariano Rivera, a well-known former baseball player, with the Carlos F. Novella Foundation and Cementos Progreso.dfd

In addition to supporting Guatemalan children, the purpose of both foundations is also to support children in the region with education and sports and to empower them within their communities.

Cecilia Dougherty, president of the Carlos F. Novella Foundation, said this type of approach reinforces the commitment to promote the formation of values and social inclusion, and together build a stronger future for children and young people in the region, with the work that Mariano carries out from his foundation matching the purpose of Carlos F. Novella foundation.

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