Osunkeye quits, as Lafarge Africa shareholders approve N15.9bn dividend

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Shareholders of Lafarge Africa Plc have approved N15.86 billion recommended by the company’s board of directors for the 2014 financial year.

The shareholders gave the approval at the company’s 56th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos on Friday.

The dividend translated to N3.60 per share compared with N3.30 declared in the corresponding period of 2013 or a growth of nine per cent.

Sunny Nwosu, the National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), lauded the company for the dividend declared in spite of challenging operating environment.

Nwosu said the company should consider a bonus issue in the current year to compensate shareholders for their support in the past years, adding that the company offered bonus last about 12 years ago.

He also called on the company’s incoming chairman to pursue strategies that would move its operations to the next level.

Godwin Anono, the Chairman, Standard Shareholders Association of Nigeria, urged the company to ensure enhanced dividend pay outs in the years ahead.

Anono said the management should continue with their good work and pursue marketing strategies to remain competitive in the industry.

Also speaking, Boniface Okezie, the National Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), called for an increase in production to ensure product availability across the country.

Okezie noted that the company had the capacity to compete favourably in the industry, adding that it should work toward reduction in cement price.

“If we want affordable houses for Nigerians and to beat our competitor in the market, we need to bring down the price of our cement.”

Earlier, the company’s Chairman, Olusegun Osunkeye, commended the shareholders for supporting its expansion plans.

According to him, arrangements are in top gear to increase production lines capacity of the company to ensure availability of its products across the country.

Osunkeye said that the medium to long-term outlook remained positive for Lafarge South Africa Holding (LSAH).

“The recent strengthening of Rand versus the Naira will increase the value of the South African profits to the group, and it is a testament to the advantages of having added Lafarge South Africa to the group,” he said.

According to him, the creation of Lafarge Africa has transformed the company into a group equipped to accelerate and withstand challenges in the African market.

He said the company’s production capacity grew from 4.5 million tonnes to about 12 million tons during the period under review.

Osunkeye said 3.5 million cubic meters of ReadyMix concretes and over 5 million tonnes of aggregates were added to the company’s portfolio.

“All of this is about building on the foundation which was laid over the last few years and the transformation into Lafarge Africa Plc is a natural progression to take our company to the next level,” he said.

He, however, attributed the high price of the company’s cement to poor power supply in the country which also contributed to high cost of production.

Osunkeye said that “We are looking at a way to reduce cost and increase our sales.”

On the demand for bonus issues, he said that it would be granted if adjudged to be in the overall interest of the company.

Also speaking, Guillaume Roux, the company’s Group Managing Director and CEO, attributed the good performance to management’s commitment to corporate governance, innovation, customer service and cost efficiency.

Roux assured the shareholders of continuous and enhanced dividend in the years ahead.

Highlight of the AGM was the retirement of Osunkeye as chairman of the company after 14 years of service.

He commended stakeholders and urged them to extend the same level of support to his successor, Mobolaji Balogun, the Chairman, Deham Securities Ltd, Lagos.

Meanwhile, the company posted a turnover of N205.8 billion in 2014 against the N206 billion achieved in 2013.

Profit before tax stood at N41.1billion compared with N64.2 billion in 2013, while profit after tax declined to N34.3 billion against N60.3 billion in 2013.

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