• Current vice-chairman Beat Hess nominated to replace Reitzle
  • Shares fall almost 8 percent to lowest level since 2009
LafargeHolcim Ltd. Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle. Photographer: Alessandro Della Bella/Bloomberg
LafargeHolcim Ltd. Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle. Photographer: Alessandro Della Bella/Bloomberg

LafargeHolcim Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle, who orchestrated the merger between the world’s two largest cement makers last year, plans to hand the reins to current Vice-Chairman Beat Hess as he moves to Linde AG.

Reitzle is stepping down to focus on his new role announced earlier Monday as chairman of the supervisory board at Linde, the German industrial-gases maker, LafargeHolcim said in a statement.

Reitzle’s departure comes at a time when LafargeHolcim is still pushing through the integration of the Swiss and French companies as well as grappling with a slowdown in demand for construction materials. The news helped send shares in the world’s largest cement maker to their lowest level since 2009. The stock, which has shed almost a third of its value this year, closed 8 percent lower at 35.91 Swiss francs in Zurich.

“I am satisfied that LafargeHolcim is now fully on track with realizing the benefits of the combined businesses,” Reitzle said in the statement. “LafargeHolcim is well placed to reach its targets.”

LafargeHolcim’s board said it will nominate Hess, a Swiss national who has previously held roles at ABB Ltd and Royal Dutch Shell, for the position of chairman at its annual shareholder meeting in May. Hess, who was elected a director of Holcim Ltd in 2010, also sits on the boards of Nestle SA and Sonova Holding AG.

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