LONDON, Jul 19 -- Gulf aluminum producer Aluminium Bahrain (ALBH.BH), or Alba, reported a higher-than-expected rise in its sales for the first half of 2011, the result of a new marketing strategy and higher production.
The company said in a statement Sunday that sales rose to 445,370 metric tons in the period, up by 4.3% from 427,065 tons in the first half of 2010.
Alba has the capacity to produce over 860,000 tons annually and is one of the largest smelters in the world. It listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2010, targeting investors interested in the aluminum industry as it drummed up support.
Sales in the second quarter of 2011 rose to 228,357 tons from 226,539 tons in the second quarter of 2010.
Production in the first half of the year was up by 3.5% from 421,659 tons in the year-earlier period, with value-added aluminum accounting for 67% of total sales, up from 62% in the same period of 2010.
Alba said it has made a "sound push" to boost value-added sales in the European market, and has opened a sales office in Zurich, Switzerland as a result.
Alba's Chief Executive Laurent Schmitt said the growth in sales and production came "despite the prevalence of severe challenges," and that the company "remains optimistic with a positive outlook for the remainder of 2011."
Alba is majority-owned by Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, with Saudi petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (2010.SA), better known as Sabic, also holding a stake. Mumtalakat is the holding vehicle for a number of companies based in Bahrain, with assets also including Gulf Air and the Bahrain International Circuit.
The IPO saw Alba's ordinary shares listed on the Bahrain Stock Exchange, with global depositary receipts representing the ordinary shares listed in London, following the sale of a 10% stake in the company by shareholder Mumtalakat.
A further dilution of the sovereign wealth fund's stake is expected in time, the company said at the time of listing, adding that there were no plans to look for listings elsewhere.