Holcim, Lafarge name Eric Olsen to run merged company

10 April 2015

Cement makers Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA agreed to appoint Eric Olsen to lead their combined operation as they seek to overcome lingering opposition from some shareholders to their planned merger.

The nomination of Olsen, who is Lafarge’s executive vice president of operations, as CEO was approved by the boards of both companies, they said in separate statements.

The companies needed to find a new CEO candidate after some Holcim shareholders demanded changes to an initial agreement that would have installed Lafarge chief Bruno Lafont as head of the new $48-billion entity, which will be the world’s biggest cement maker.

Olsen’s “appointment will tick a number of boxes for concerned investors,” analysts at Davy Research said. “He brings important operational experience as well as experience of integrating businesses. The appointment is another important step for the two groups in getting the deal over the line.”

“With his broad international experience and insights in key markets, he is best positioned to lead the combined company for the benefit of employees, shareholders and customers,” said Wolfgang Reitzle, who’s Holcim’s chairman and set to continue that role at the merged company.

Holcim and Lafarge have predicted the merger will lead to cost savings of 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) annually, giving them an advantage over rivals after a global recession eroded demand for building materials and forced some kilns to run at a loss.


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