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Holcim unveils new share structure and chairman

Holcim has plants around the world, including North America (Holcim)

Switzerland's Holcim company, the world's second-largest producer of cement, has announced plans to introduce a unified registered share structure.

The group said the measure was aimed at treating all investors equally.

In another Board decision, Holcim has named a new chairman to succeed major shareholder Thomas Schmidheiny, who stepped down definitively in February after paying a fine for insider trading in Spain.

However, Schmidheiny - who vacated the position of chairman last June - said his involvement with the firm would continue.

"As the largest single shareholder, I am maintaining my long-term industrial commitment to Holcim... I will thus play an active part in the company's continued success," the former chairman said.

Equal status

In a statement on Wednesday, Holcim said that bearer shares (now representing 34 per cent of the voting rights) would be converted into registered shares on June 10.

The company said the move, to be approved at the annual meeting on June 4, would allow all shareholders to enjoy equal status in the future.

Holcim said a standard registered share would turn the "one share = one vote" principle into reality.

The company stressed that it was important that the board was unanimous in its decision, noting that principal shareholder Schmidheiny gave his full support to the decision.

Strengthened position

In its explanation for the move, the Board said that the introduction of a standard registered share enabled more stringent corporate governance requirements to be met in full.

It would significantly increase tradability for all shareholders and would strengthen Holcim's position on the Swiss stock exchange (SWX).

As part of the new share introduction, there will be no premium on existing registered shares (now representing 66 per cent of voting rights).

This reflected common practice to date when standard share classes have been introduced at major public companies, the statement explained.

Soiron to become chairman

The Board also announced that Rolf Soiron (58), a director since 1994, would take over from interim chairman Willy Kissling (59) after the annual shareholders' meeting. Kissling is to remain as vice-chairman.

Kissling took over after Schmidheiny stepped down as chairman last year.

Dieter Spälti, a partner at the firm Spectrum Value Management that manages Schmidheiny's assets, is also being proposed as a director.

Lawyer Andrea von Planta was previously nominated as a board member to succeed Peter Kurer.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Holcim wants to introduce a single share structure from June 10. The plan is for bearer shares to be converted into registered shares on that date.

The company says major shareholder Thomas Schmidheiny has given full support to the move.

Holcim says the new share will improve stock liquidity.

Total bearer shares represent 34 per cent and total registered shares 66 per cent of the voting rights.

The company has nominated Rolf Soiron to take over as chairman after the annual shareholders' meeting.

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