Lafarge approves N13.01bn dividend, promises shareholders better returns

Lafarge Africa Plc

LAFARGE Africa Plc on Wednesday approved the payment of N13.01 billion dividend, at N1.50 per share, to its shareholders against N5.75 billion or N1.05 per share paid in the corresponding period of 2016.

The company also assured its shareholders of enhanced growth in it’s operations and better dividend in the next 12 months through turnaround initiatives.

Mr Mobolaji Balogun, the company’s Chairman, stated this at the 59th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos.

Balogun told the shareholders that the company had embarked on turnaround programme to increase market share and ensure enhanced returns to all stakeholders.

“By the next 12 months , you will see the benefit of our turnaround plan which is beginning to show in our Nigerian operations, and will be extended to our South Africa subsidiary,” he said.

According to him, the company had reduced its total debt from N389 billion to N238 billion.

He said the N151 billion reduction was through the rights issue and cash generated from the company’s operations.

The chairman said the company’s recent N131.6 billion rights issue significantly reduced its foreign exchange debt exposure by 50 per cent.

He said the proceeds of the subscription further provided the opportunity to repay another 82 million dollars of the LafargeHolcim shareholder loans, including accumulated unpaid accrued interests.

According to him, the board of directors is already reviewing options to deal with the remaining foreign exchange debt.

Balogun said the bond issuance proposed this year was to refinance its outstanding debt.

“We cannot continue to sit with large contribution of dollar denominated debt in a company generating mostly naira. We need a match in currency perspective,” he said.

He assured shareholders that restructuring of the capital structure of the company would significantly reduce the cost of financing and currency translation risk.

“The board of directors is mindful of the support of all our shareholders through the difficult but necessary journey to transform the company into a more agile and correctly financed business ready to benefit from the opportunity in Nigerian market,” the chairman said.

Balogun said the company was implementing a new route-to-market initiative aimed at supporting the anticipated growth in demand as the country gradually recovers from recession and as the foreign exchange rate stabilises.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that for the financial year ended Dec. 31. 2017, the company posted a turnover of N299.2 billion against N219.7 billion in 2016, an increase of 36 per cent.

It recorded a loss after tax of N34.6 compared with N16.9 billion declared in the corresponding period of 2016.

Its gross profit stood at N50.8 billion in contrast with N40.7 billion in the previous year.

Also speaking at the AGM, Mr Michel Puchercos, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, said Lafarge Africa’s industrial operations in 2017 were stable with plants operating at high reliability levels.

Puchercos said key projects in Nigeria such as road construction in Calabar and a mothballed assets in South Africa led to an impairment of N19.1 billion.

“The combination of these impairment and the net loss in South Africa of N18 .7 billion led to a group net loss of N34.6 billion, compared with a profit of N16.8 billion in 2016,” he said.

Puchercos said the South African business thrived in a challenging environment, noting that operations would stabilise in 2018.

“For South Africa the economy is expected to grow by three per cent in 2018. The turnaround plan of the South African operations is focused on cost containment, commercial transformation and industrial stabilsation.

“The overall goal is to create value for shareholders through an attractive growth profile and good margins,” Puchercos said.

NAN also reports that the shareholders at the meeting approved the payment of N13.01 billion which translated to N1.50 per share against N5.75 billion or N1.05 per share paid in the corresponding period of 2016. (NAN)

– May 16, 2018 @ 19:05 GMT |

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