Holcim Ltd is anticipating another solid financial performance by the Group. Consolidated results for 2001 are expected to be in line with last year's excellent figures. Moderately stronger operative results seem likely from the present standpoint.
At the Annual General Meeting of "Holderbank" Financière Glaris Ltd in Dübendorf in the Canton of Zurich, the 744 shareholders present, representing approximately 40% percent of the voting capital, approved all proposals put forward by the Board of Directors. In his address, Chairman Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny emphasized that the level of business has been generally reasonable for the Group over the year to date, but construction activity has slowed down in several countries. The Group has succeeded in raising deliveries in its main segments of cement, aggregates and concrete. First-time consolidations in Egypt and on the Philippines impacted positively on cement sales. Provided there is no adverse change in economic conditions, key exchange rates or global energy prices in the remainder of the year, the Group is anticipating a moderate improvement in operating results in the range of +5 percent for 2001 as a whole.
Demand in Europe is expected to be sound in 2001, above all in Switzerland, central and eastern Europe and in Spain. Delivery levels will remain high in Italy, and market conditions in Belgium and France are likely to stay stable. By contrast, Germany's building industry is facing major difficulties.
Construction activity is still visibly solid in the USA and Canada, although it is not clear at present whether volume and price levels can be maintained over a period of 12 months given the weaker US economic numbers from other sectors.
Group region Latin America is expected to make a significant contribution to the Group result in 2001. Mexico is witnessing a temporary falloff in demand for construction materials, but other countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Venezuela are enjoying an upturn in the building sector. While cement consumption is likely to remain stable in Brazil and Colombia, the recession dogging Argentina has not yet bottomed out.
The overall picture presented by Group region Africa, Middle East is encouraging. Construction activity is on the increase. Higher delivery volumes in Morocco and South Africa underpin optimism for the Group region, as does the first full-year quota consolidation of Egyptian Cement in 2001.
The ASEAN countries have not yet cleared all economic hurdles. Although building activity is still sluggish, the Thai Group company is set to turn in a positive performance thanks to a concerted cost optimization drive. On the Philippines, where Union Cement is to be quota consolidated for the first time, imports are impeding a recovery by the domestic cement industry. The markets in Vietnam and Malaysia are looking good. Declining construction activity in Australia contrasts with a stable building sector in New Zealand. In local currency terms, Group companies in this region are, however, expected to lift results.
Shareholders gave the necessary majority approval to the proposed 5-for-1 split of registered and bearer shares and the creation of authorized capital of around CHF 600 million. In accordance with the motion tabled, the gross dividend was set at CHF 25 (1999: CHF 22) per bearer share and CHF 5 (1999: CHF 4.40) per registered share.
The name change was also approved. "Holderbank" Financière Glaris Ltd will henceforth be operating under the new name of Holcim Ltd and will be changing its registered office to Jona in the Canton of St. Gallen.
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With majority and minority interests in more than 70 countries on all continents, Holcim is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement, as well as aggregates (gravel and sand), concrete and construction-related services.
The results of the first half year 2001 will be published on 6 September 2001.
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