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Holcim remains positive despite drop in profit

Holcim is upbeat about its future Keystone Archive

Holcim, one of the world's leading cement suppliers, has announced a 38 per cent drop in net profit in 2002 to SFr506 million ($365 million).

The canton St Gallen-based company said one-off factors were to blame for the fall in profit, which was in line with expectations. It predicted “robust results” for 2003.

In a statement on Wednesday, Holcim said 2002 sales fell to SFr13 billion from SFr13.6 billion the year before. Operating profit dropped to SFr1.9 billion from SFr1.95 billion.

Holcim said profit had been hit by special factors, including SFr120 million set aside to pay a possible fine in Germany, SFr63 million written off against closed plants in Argentina, and SFr31 million written off on a stake in the national airline, Swiss.

Two Holcim units are among 30 firms under investigation by the cartel office in Germany.

The cartel investigation is the second scandal to hit the firm in recent years. Holcim chairman and major shareholder Thomas Schmidheiny announced last month he would not return as chairman after being forced to step aside last year during an investigation in Spain for alleged insider trading.

But Switzerland’s biggest cement group said it was optimistic about the future:

“Thanks to the restructuring measures implemented, Holcim is well equipped to achieve robust results even if the global economy takes a further turn for the worse.”

And Holcim said it was “ideally positioned to profit to an above-average extent from an economic upswing”.

swissinfo with agencies

Holcim profit fell 38 per cent in 2002 to SFr506 million.
The leading cement supplier blamed one-off factors for the drop in profit.
It projected “robust profits” in 2003.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR