Lafarge Africa Plc on Wednesday approved the payment of N13.01bn dividend, at N1.50 per share, to its shareholders, against the N5.75bn or N1.05 per share paid in the corresponding period of 2016.
The company also assured its shareholders of enhanced growth in its operations and better dividend in the next 12 months through turnaround initiatives.
The company’s chairman, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun, stated this at the company’s 59th Annual General Meeting 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 benefits 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 N389bn to N238bn.
He said the N151bn reduction was through the rights issue and cash generated from the company’s operations.
The chairman said the company’s recent N131.6bn 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 $82m 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 News Agency of Nigeria reports that for the financial year ended December 31, 2017, the company posted a turnover of N299.2bn, against N219. 7bn in 2016 — an increase of 36 per cent.
Its gross profit stood at N50.8bn, in contrast with N40.7bn in the previous year.
Also speaking at the AGM, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michel Puchercos, 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 N19.1bn.
“The combination of these impairment and the net loss in South Africa of N18 .7bn led to a group net loss of N34.6bn, compared with a profit of N16.8bn in 2016,” he said.
Puchercos said the South African business thrived in a challenging environment, noting that operations would stabilise in 2018.
“The overall goal is to create value for shareholders through an attractive growth profile and good margins,” Puchercos said.