North Korea: “An Opportunity Like None Other”

From The Wall Street Journal’s Deal Journal, an interesting review of Lafarge’s recent acquisition of the Egyptian cement company Orascom (covered in this blog earlier) which emphasizes that the purchase also involved an entree for the French company into North Korea. As the article notes, North Korea may – eventually – offer an opportunity like none other:

“…In July Orascom paid about $115 million to buy half of a North Korean concrete maker called Sangwon Cement, which is itself part of Pyongyang Myongdang Trading Corp., owned by the (what else?) government….

With tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program abating, foreign money is starting to move, carefully, into the country. By any other measure the amounts are trivial — in the tens of millions of dollars — but there certainly is plenty of business and M&A opportunity for brave business people. A spokeswoman for Lafarge said North Korea is a very small piece of Orascom’s total business and didn’t consider it a significant issue.

Lafarge has been pushing international expansion for decades, having established operations in the U.S., China, Ecuador, India and beyond. Life in North Korea may be a touch different, but the opportunity is, perhaps, like none other. Consider the cost of labor there, with monthly wages at around $57.50, compared to about $100 for China, according to one recent Newsweek International story. And there has been such little infrastructure built there that the North is practically begging the South for more foreign investment.

Deal Journal’s prediction: That sometime in the next 10 years, General Electric, Siemens and Hyundai will all be touting the “North Korean opportunity.” For the record, Lafarge was there first.”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 at 7:24 pm and is filed under Lafarge, North Korea.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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Wildcats & Black Sheep is a personal interest blog dedicated to the identification and evaluation of maverick investment opportunities arising in frontier - and, what some may consider to be, “rogue” or “black sheep” - markets around the world.

Focusing primarily on The New Seven Sisters - the largely state owned petroleum companies from the emerging world that have become key players in the oil & gas industry as identified by Carola Hoyos, Chief Energy Correspondent for The Financial Times - but spanning other nascent opportunities around the globe that may hold potential in the years ahead, Wildcats & Black Sheep is a place for the adventurous to contemplate & evaluate the emerging markets of tomorrow.