Vincent Bouckaert, CEO Lafarge Zambia Plc, has left the building. SENS announcement coming from Lafarge by order of the Muna Hantuba led board announced that Vincent would be departing (resigning) from the company effective 5th December 2018.
Vincent was ushered in as the new CEO barely 2 years ago following the departure of Emmanuel Rigaux who had served as CEO from August 2013 to August 2016 (3 years). Emmanuel later went on to become Head of LafargeHolcim Head of the West African Cluster. Pastures greener within the group no doubt.
Vincent’s opening statement in the 2016 annual report signalled that company now had a Marris type (game theory) CEO who was keen on differentiating the company in a time that saw the company enter a price war with Dangote Cement. His statement read “The Company continues to be the market leader in the building materials and construction sector. We remain committed to differentiating ourselves by being a construction solutions provider for our customers and end users. In 2016 the Company turned out a resilient performance despite the challenges in the economy and competitive environment.” For investors in the company, this statement offered some comfort in terms of what strategy the company would employ to compete with its rivals.
Under Vincent’s tenure, the company saw the introduction of additional flavours of cement on the market. However, he took over at a time the company’s share price had recovered from the January rout that saw the company’s market capitalization eroded in a period from hell. At that time in 2016, the company’s share price fluctuated throughout the year ending with a closing share price of K6.00 per share. Vincent exits Lafarge with a further eroded share price of K4.87 per share.
We cannot speculate on the reasons of his resignation however the numbers show an interesting story for the discerning investor. 2017 saw Vincent’s leadership increase turnover by 13.3%, cement production by 6.7%, cement sales growing 7% and aggregates sales rising by 4.9%.
At half year 2018, Vincent oversaw sales revenue at K498 million for the first half period of 2018 up by 18% compared to 2017 attributed to strong market growth in the first half. In addition, the sales volume increased by 12% over the same period in 2017. Vincent’s only fears included the February 2018 fuel increases which he believed would raise input prices hence adversely impacting production costs. Furthermore, employing the Binastore strategy was Vincent’s “trump card” that was responsible for the growth in revenue.
The board has announced the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Raphael Chipoma as Acting Managing Director and CEO with effect from 5th December 2018 until further notice. The changes in Directorship at Lafarge will hardly affect the share price of the company. Investors in the company however, have the obligation to ask whether this transition will lead to an improved share price in the long run as they have seen their share price fall under the previous leadership.