LafargeHolcim Board begins search for CEO Olsen successor

Sources: LafargeHolcim Ltd., Zurich; CP staff

Eric Olsen, the charter chief executive officer and lone American-born director of LafargeHolcim, has resigned effective July 15, noting how two years after the Lafarge Group and Holcim Ltd. merger, the business “has everything it needs to successfully transform the industry and build sustainably our future world. I fully trust our teams to transform that ambition into reality.”

Announcement of his resignation immediately followed disclosure of findings from an internal investigation of 2013-14 actions to secure a $680 million Syria greenfield operation opened in 2010—one year ahead of the beginning of conflicts that have since evolved to civil war. Actions included payments by representatives of a pre-merger business, Lafarge Cement Syria, to militant group-connected intermediaries.

“Significant errors of judgment were made that contravened the acceptable code of conduct,” the LafargeHolcim Board concludes. “[A]lthough measures were instigated by local and regional management, selected members of Group management were aware of circumstances indicating that violations of Lafarge’s established standards of business conduct had taken place.”

“My decision is driven by my conviction that it will contribute to addressing strong tensions that have recently arisen around the Syria case,” Olsen states in a press release. “While I was absolutely not involved in, nor even aware of, any wrongdoing I believe my departure will contribute to bringing back serenity to a company that has been exposed for months on this case.”

LafargeHolcim has begun a search for his successor. Chairman Beat Hess will serve as interim chief executive officer after July 15.