In his speech to about 280 shareholders, Dr. Bernd Scheifele, Chairman of the Managing Board, offered a look back at HeidelbergCement’s successful development in 2015. Despite a weakening in global economic growth in the course of the year, HeidelbergCement developed well and met the forecasts and objectives of the financial year 2015. Especially operating income and the profit for the financial year increased significantly. Aside from the Group’s advantageous geographical positioning in countries with solid economic development, this success was primarily due to the programmes to improve efficiency and margins, price increases in key markets, energy costs that were moderately below the previous year, and positive exchange rate effects due to the weakening of the euro.
In addition, HeidelbergCement has, for the first time since the financial crisis, earned a premium on the costs of capital. Net debt was again reduced significantly, and the key financial ratios reached investment grade level. The new strategic priorities of ‘shareholder returns’ and ‘continuous growth’ that were presented in June 2015 are already reflected in the considerably raised dividend proposal and the planned takeover of Italcementi. The combination with Italcementi will create the global market leader in aggregates, the second largest producer of cement and the global number three in ready-mixed concrete. The excellent geographical fit of the assets will strengthen each of HeidelbergCement’s geographic clusters. In addition, following the closing of the transaction, annual run-rate synergies of €400 million should be realised by 2018. Closing of the acquisition is expected in the second half of 2016.
In the last 12 months, HeidelbergCement was able to further enlarge its shareholder structure and gain long-term interested investors as shareholders. Since the beginning of 2015, the HeidelbergCement share price developed very positively and outrun both DAX and MSCI Construction Materials Index.
Dr. Scheifele also reported on the results and developments in the first quarter of 2016, and raised the outlook for the remainder of the year. “The year 2016 has started better than expected,” said Dr. Bernd Scheifele. “We have therefore raised our result outlook for the current year from a moderate to a high single to double digit increase. We are confident about 2015 and are well positioned to achieve our goals.”
The Annual General Meeting has approved the proposal of the administration to increase the dividend by 73% to €1.30 with a substantial majority of 99.84%. “With the strong increase in the dividend, we are delivering on our promise, to share our successful business development to a greater extent with our shareholders,” explained Dr. Bernd Scheifele. “With the seventh consecutive increase in dividend payment, HeidelbergCement is one of the companies that have increased their dividend payment continuously over the past years.”
Adapted from press release by Joseph Green
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/europe-cis/05052016/heidelbergcement-annual-general-meeting-40/