Markus Akermann, the current chief executive of Holcim, will retire at the end of January, having fulfilled the role for the past 10 years. His successor is 50 year-old French citizen, Bernard Fontana, who came from Arcelor/Mittal and for the past year has been running Aperam, a quoted steel company that was spun off from Arcelor/Mittal towards the beginning of this year.

In India, Ambuja Cements increased production for the first nine months of the year by 1.9% to 15.44Mt, while deliveries, including clinker sales, improved by 2.8% to 15.80Mt. For the month of September, Ambuja Cements increased shipments by 2.3% to 1.55Mt, but the monthly production was off by 1.6% to 1.46Mt. Ambuja Cements has acquired a 60% interest in the fly ash business Dirk India from its founders for some US$3.5m. Sister company ACC Limited increased cement deliveries for the nine months by 14.1% to 17.79Mt, while production was also 14.1% higher at 17.76Mt. ACC's cement production rose by 9.9% in September to 1.67Mt and deliveries were 9.5% higher at 1.73Mt.

It is difficult to know the precise reasoning behind the increase in the Holcim holding by Eurocement to 10.11%. It clearly understands the cement business and may well try to take advantage of the depressed share prices in the sector. The company may possibly be looking to make a capital gain and reinvest the proceeds in the Russian cement industry, either by building a new plant, or two, or buying plants already in the planning stage by others, not so deeply entrenched in the cement industry. The hope of some co-operation with Holcim cannot be ruled out either, if the monopolies authorities allow.