Was the replacement of Bernard Kasriel as chief executive of Lafarge from next January (when he will be only 59 years of age) by Bruno Lafont, brought forward as a result of the investment community’s disappointment with the first half results, or would it have happened anyway? To some extent, the poor first half results could have been foreseen, as the volume and price movements for cement in Brazil, Malaysia and South Korea had been published well ahead, giving analysts every opportunity to adjust their forecasts. The only real disappointment came from the German roofing business, where the move from a €21m trading profit to a €10m trading loss in Germany compares unfavourably with the results published by Creaton, the German market leader in clay tiles, which reported trading profits declining by ’just’ 42.4 per cent to €2.64m.
Unlike Mr Kasriel, who prior to joining Lafarge in 1977, had held senior management positions elsewhere, Mr. Lafont has spent his whole career within Lafarge, initially in financial functions. Immediately prior to his appointment as one of two deputy group managing directors around two years ago, (the other being Michel Rose, who, at 62, would not have much time at the top job before retiring) Mr. Lafont was responsible for the gypsum division, where the performance during that time was, it has to be said, hardly brilliant. Hopefully Bruno Lafont has learned from his gypsum period.
Looking more specifically at Lafarge’s cement sector, there will now be two new joint heads of the group’s cement operations as from next January, one being Guillaume Roux, who until now has been responsible for the cement operations in south-east Asia, and the other being Ulrich Glaunach, a former managing director of Lafarge Perlmooser in Austria, who returns to cement, having spent seven years in the roofing division, the past five as its chief executive.