How many staff will LafargeHolcim need?

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There was a lot of news out of Lafarge and Holcim this week regarding preparations towards their merger. Just this morning we heard that the partners have entered into a binding agreement with Ireland's CRH regarding the sale of the assets that must be divested. Meanwhile, Lafarge and Holcim have also completed the appointments for the future LafargeHolcim executive committee. Its nine members will be responsible for such tasks as finance, integration, performance and costs, growth and innovation, as well as regional activities in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, North America and Latin America.

However, it was other types of personnel that featured in Lafarge and Holcim's earlier press releases. On 19 May 2015 Lafarge came out and announced the first (pre-merger) job losses that will result from the merger. It will cut 380 positions in central and regional corporate roles, with 166 going in its native France. For its part Holcim will make 120 pre-merger job losses, all in Switzerland. Ignoring the clear discrepancy in scale between the different sides, Lafarge and Holcim will have lost at least 500 jobs out of their combined ~130,000. This is just a scratch on the surface, but it does raise an interesting question: How many more jobs will go at LafargeHolcim?

First up are the staff that will go to work for CRH. This probably represents the largest number of staff that will come of LafargeHolcim's books relative to Lafarge and Holcim's current staff levels. According to their 2014 Annual Reports, Lafarge and Holcim employ a combined 81,000 staff in cement roles. Given that they have a combined 425Mt/yr of cement capacity (give or take) this equates to around 190 staff for each 1Mt/yr of capacity.

As the new LafargeHolcim will have control over around 340Mt/yr of cement capacity, we can crudely scale the 190 staff up to 64,600 cement sector staff. This indicates that around 16,400 staff that are currently employed by Lafarge and Holcim will be 'off' to CRH (and others). This leaves 48,100 staff in non-cement roles at LafargeHolcim.

Will more jobs be lost post-merger? Lafarge and Holcim have stated that the new entity will have 115,000 staff. However, with around 42% of future employees employed in non-cement roles - compared to 41% and 34% for Lafarge and Holcim respectively in 2014 - it certainly seems that there could be scope for at least some reduction in overall numbers from LafargeHolcim's non-cement functions. Future job losses could therefore be a possibility, but the exact scale of future consolidations and 'synergies' (if any) will only become apparent post-merger. Maybe LafargeHolcim could end up with around 105,000 to 110,000 staff.

A key time may well be early 2016, when LafargeHolcim will launch a new 'corporate structure.' This term was also used by Lafarge and Holcim in their most recent releases, so further job losses could be on the cards.

One member of LafargeHolcim staff with nothing to worry about now will be Bruno Lafont, current CEO of Lafarge. He received a Euro2.5m bonus this week for his 'key role' in conducting the merger. How LafargeHolcim staff who could be nervous about their jobs will take this remains to be seen.

The Lafarge-Holcim Report from Global Cement is available to order now

Last modified on 10 June 2015

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