Lafarge Africa Plc, a member of the LafargeHolcim, has assured its shareholders of improved return on investments.
Addressing shareholders at the annual general meeting of the company in Lagos, the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun, assured shareholders that the board and management would continue to drive improvement in results.
“Despite the challenging economic and regulatory operating environment, the company has continued to make significant progress on a number of fronts, thereby ensuring solid operating performance. The earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margins in the Nigerian operations stood at 27 per cent at close of the year, resulting from a stable pricing environment, stabilising industrial operations, the use of alternative energy and the implementation of our commercial and logistics performance improvement plan,” Balogun said.
“Other items discussed at the AGM include the proposal by Lafarge Africa to sell Lafarge South Africa Holding Limited (LSAH) to LafargeHolcim Group. With the proceeds from the proposed sale, it is expected that Lafarge Africa’s shareholder loan as at July 31, 2019, will be completely paid off. The loan represents the only existing foreign currency loan in the books of the Company. The proposal was eventually approved by an overwhelming majority of shareholders at the AGM.
“On dividend for the year under review, the chairman stated that “on the basis of the results for the year, the Board is unable to propose dividends. With the sale of LSAH as proposed by the Board to shareholders the only debt that will remain on the books of the company will be the second tranche of the corporate bond due for redemption in June 2021 and the subsidised loan in respect of CBN Power Intervention Funds through the Bank of Industry. This significant reduction in debt holds prospects for dividend distribution in future”.
In his submission, the Managing Director of Lafarge Africa, Mr. Michel Puchercos, appreciated the understanding showed by the shareholders in approving the board’s proposals. He maintained that management was determined to deliver on the trust expressed by the shareholders.
“We are delighted with the understanding by our shareholders on the need to focus our business in Nigeria. The approval of the proposed sale of Lafarge South Africa by the shareholders will cut debts service obligation and curtail substantially financial charges which will have positive impact on liquidity and the opportunity to expand our operations in Nigeria.
“The company’s operating profit increased by 215 per cent for the year ended December 2018. The financial report of the company for the year under review reflected a stabilisation of cement selling price in addition to nine per cent growth in cement dispatched in Nigeria.
“In addition, improvements in cost and execution of the company’s new route to market had a positive impact on operating profit, which increased from N7.9 billion in 2017 to N24.8 billion in 2018. Despite financing cost incurred during the year, the outlook of the company’s operations showed significant improvement,” he noted.