Sephaku Holdings (SepHold) says in a dismal trading update that it expects earnings to plunge in the year ended March. This comes as the Master Builders Association North — which represents building and construction interests in Gauteng, the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo — says the construction industry is in a "state of emergency". It says factors that have contributed to the industry’s decline include shrinking margins, an increase in contract-related penalties and nonpayment or delayed payment by private and public sector clients. SepHold has a 36% stake in Dangote Cement SA and 100% of Métier Mixed Concrete, a ready-mix concrete maker. It says that Métier has experienced high numbers of late payments from customers, causing the subsidiary to raise provision for bad debts.

SepHold said on Wednesday that Métier’s customers, "mainly medium-sized building contractors, were severely impacted by the turmoil in the construction industry". Meanwhile, estimated cement industry...

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