Lafarge chief executive Bruno Lafont said the group’s strategic priorities going forward are to invest in cement activities in developing countries and to develop its capacity for innovation, notably in concrete.
Speaking in an interview with French business daily, La Tribune, Lafont said the group had set these targets as part of its Excellence 2008 plan, which also includes objectives for reductions in costs and the simplification of the group’s organisational structure.
Lafont did not specify what form these investments would take, but said that the group’s favoured model at present was one of "local consolidation."
In India, however, Lafont said "it is cheaper and more profitable to build new factories rather than buy cement plants," adding that Lafarge has obtained three licences to construct new plants in the country.
In Africa, the group is also doubling its total factories in South Africa, Zambia and Uganda and "building a grinding plant in the Cameroon," the CEO explained, while at the same time examining other projects in the region.
Separately, Lafont said he regarded the presence of Albert Frere’s holding company GBL in Lafarge’s capital as "a strength for our group" saying he would be in favour of granting Frere a seat on Lafarge’s board if the Belgian financier made the request.
Albert Frere’s holding company Groupe Bruxelles Lambert increased its stake in Lafarge to 17 per cent in April this year, and is reportedly intending to raise this to 20 pct this year, and then to 30 per cent over the next three years in order to fend off takeover bids by private equity firms.