Holcim dividend facing a cut as demand tails off

City A.M. Reporter
HOLCIM will book a SwFr775m (£535.5m) charge in the fourth quarter, raising the prospect the cement-maker may trim its dividend, after a slump in demand for construction material and a South African business restructuring.

The company’s ability to pay a dividend for 2011 had not changed and its board would decide on the size of the payout in February, the company said on yesterday.

“The payout will probably come down only slightly,” Vontobel analyst Serge Rotzer said.

Holcim paid a dividend of 1.50 francs per share for 2010.

Since 2008, demand for cement in Spain has plummeted by more than half, fallen by about a third in parts of eastern Europe and by 45 per cent in the United States, Holcim said.

Because demand for construction materials will only recover at a modest pace and production capacity will not be used fully, an impairment charge of SwFr360m will be booked, it added. The firm’s shares fell 1.6 per cent yesterday.