At the Ordinary General Meeting of "Holderbank" Financière Glaris Ltd. ("Holderbank"), held this year at HCB's Siggenthal plant in the Canton of Aargau, the 669 shareholders in attendance represented around 66 percent of total voting rights. In his address, Chairman Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny noted that for the year to date business had been very pleasing for the Group, with sales volumes well in excess of the previous year's in all three major segments (cement, aggregates and concrete). Sales improved by more than 20 percent in the first three months, and operating profit also showed an above-average increase. The Group is currently reaping the full benefit of healthier building markets around the globe and a strong US dollar.
"Holderbank" Annual General Meeting: After an extremely encouraging start to the business year 2000 Chairman Thomas Schmidheiny also anticipates an impressive performance by the Group over the following months.
Firming economies and mild weather clearly bolstered European Group companies' sales volumes and turnovers at the beginning of the year. Restructuring drives carried out in preceding years gave operating profit an excellent boost. Group companies in the USA and Canada continued to profit from solid construction markets.
In Latin America, Group company results, particularly in Brazil and Mexico, were stronger. An upturn in building activity led to healthy improvements, especially in the wake of last year's efforts to streamline market and process management. "Holderbank" expects the region's economic upswing to continue throughout the year, bringing with it a further increase in results.
Africa and the Middle East present a mixed picture. While in the first few months of 2000 Group companies in Morocco, West Africa and the Indian Ocean region reported results on par with or even slightly better than last year's figures, cement consumption in South Africa and Lebanon witnessed cyclically induced declines.
Markets in Asia Pacific fared well. Most crisis-struck Asian countries are recovering more quickly than anticipated. With the exception of Sri Lanka and Australia, Group companies reported an increase in cement deliveries during the period January through April. Quota-consolidated for the first time, Siam City Cement in Thailand posted a strong year-on-year improvement in results while holding sales volumes stable. "Holderbank" companies in New Zealand and Australia also reported stronger financial results.
The Board of Directors and Executive Committee are in the firm belief that sales volumes and financial results will hit new record highs in the business year 2000, provided the situation on the currency front remains stable.
The General Meeting approved the proposal to set the gross dividend at CHF 22.- (1998: CHF 20.-) per bearer and CHF 4.40 (1998: CHF 4.-) per registered share.
With majority and minority interests in 70 countries on all continents, "Holderbank" is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement, as well as aggregates (gravel and sand), concrete and construction-related services.