HeidelbergCement AG said it isn’t planning to delist from public trading. Chief Executive Bernd Scheifele, speaking at the company’s 2005 earnings press conference, said there weren’t any plans for a delisting or for a ’squeeze-out’, or buying the holdings of minority shareholders. He said HeidelbergCement will continue to be a heavyweight in Germany’s M-Dax index of medium-sized capitalization companies.
HeidelbergCement was taken over last year by Germany’s Spohn Cement GmbH, a company controlled by HeidelbergCement major shareholder Adolf Merckle. At the time there was market speculation Merckle would remove HeidelbergCement from public trading. It is listed on exchanges in Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Duesseldorf, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg and Hanover. Spohn and its associates and subsidiaries own 77.95 per cent of HeidelbergCement.
In 2006, the company expects a two-digit percentage increase in sales and net profit, Scheifele said, declining to give further details. The company’s cost-saving program, which started in September, is already reaping benefits, Scheifele said. While HeidelbergCement’s production costs are still higher than its international competitors, the company has narrowed the cost-difference from EUR5-a-ton to between EUR2 and EUR2.50-a-ton, he said. However, Scheifele said there is still a distance to go to reach the level of its international competitors and the company isn’t satisfied with its earnings level. About 1100 jobs will be cut as part of the cost-savings program.
Scheifele said an annual operating profit of EUR100 million in the company’s domestic business would be acceptable and would reflect a 30% market improvement. He noted that German domestic cement prices are about EUR5-EUR10 below an "acceptable level" of EUR70-a-ton which decreases margins. Cement prices are higher in other European countries, he added.