This focused diversification, both geographically and in terms of products earmarks our 100-year history.
Alphonse Emsens founded Eternit and set up a fibre cement factory in Haren near Brussels. He acquired the license from the Austrian industrialist Ludwig Hatschek, who had invented a technology that enabled the production of flat sheets made of cement reinforced with fibres.
In the thirties, Eternit expanded internationally. New branches were set up in Europe. To safeguard overseas markets where the group was very active through exports, investments were made in Latin America (Argentina, Chili and Uruguay). The year 1937 marked the foundation of Eternit Argentina.
Reconstruction after World War II breathed new air into the building sector. Eternit prospered once more while maintaining its investment policy. In 1949, the first cement factory was built in Africa (Congo).
Other countries soon followed. In 1950, Eternit brought its activities to Asia. A fibre cement factory was built in Manila, the Philippines.
After a period focusing on modernising tools and technologies, the group started a period of product diversification. As a result, plasterboard was added to the portfolio and the Gyproc company was founded in Belgium.
A strong position in fibre cement allowed the company to take advantage of the sector’s recovery. Promat, a German company producing passive fire protection solutions founded in 1958, was acquired in 1981.
Ceramic tiles for floor and walls, manufactured and marketed in Latin America, became a new business segment. Ceramica San Lorenzo in Argentina joined the company.
The use of asbestos was entirely banned from Etex’s production processes.
All plastic activities were split from the building materials activities, giving birth to the Aliaxis company. The other activities remained part of the group.
Etex took over 80 % of the European and Latin American gypsum activities of the French group Lafarge. This marked one of the biggest acquisition in Etex’s history and led to the creation of Siniat, the brand under which plasterboard is manufactured and sold in Europe.
Etex acquired the remaining 20 % of the gypsum business in Latin America and Europe. This step enables us to play a major role in the dry construction market.