Holcim, Lafarge discuss new role for Lafont to save deal: sources

Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:53pm EDT
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By Leila Abboud, Gilles Guillaume and Anjuli Davies

PARIS/ZURICH (Reuters) - Cement makers Holcim HOLN.VX and Lafarge LAFP.PA, seeking to save their merger deal, are discussing a new leadership for the combined group which would give Lafarge's boss Bruno Lafont a lesser role, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

When the deal was announced in April last year Lafont was presented as the future chief executive of what would be the world's biggest cement maker. But the Swiss side has since grown dissatisfied with his leadership and financial track record, the people said.

Lafont could be named co-chairman of the future company, two of the sources said, alongside Wolfgang Reitzle, the current chairman of Holcim.

Lafarge's financial director Jean-Jacques Gauthier is a possible candidate for the post of CEO, said two of the people.

The discussions over the leadership as well as the share exchange ratio of the deal are continuing, the people said, and could still evolve or break down.

"The discussions are ongoing on all aspects of the deal, on the share exchange ratio and the governance," said one of the sources.

The board of Holcim was meeting on Wednesday evening, while a meeting of the Lafarge board was pushed to Thursday morning, said two of the sources.

A second source said that Holcim was not calling into question whether the marriage of the two groups was a merger of equals - the basis of the deal's pricing and other terms and allocation of seven seats aside on the board.   Continued...

A man walks past the logos of Swiss cement maker Holcim in front of the company's headquarters in Zurich February 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann