Holcim Ltd CEO Markus Akermann predicted a new round of consolidation in the cement industry, spurred by buoyant growth and revived profitability. But Markus Akermann, chief executive, doubted the Swiss company would follow Mexican rival Cemex into multibillion dollar deals. ’I think consolidation will clearly continue in our industry. But not through big mergers, so much as purchases of smaller and medium-sized companies’, the Financial Times quoted Akermann as saying. Speaking after the company reported a 33 pct rise in nine-month net profits, Akermann also said the outlook for 2005 is ’pretty good’ despite higher energy prices.
Mr Akermann declined to give a full-year forecast, but said the group expected a "substantially stronger result", than the SFr686m made after tax and minorities in 2003. Analysts admitted the previous consensus forecast of around SFr900m would have to be upgraded.
Four of Holcim’s five areas reported sharply higher earnings, with only Latin America recording a 5.7 per cent decline. Even here, earnings rose 1.5 per cent in US dollar terms.