Unveiling the Mystery of Holcim----visiting Mr. Christoph Moellers, Chief Representative of Holcim Beijing Office


Updated Tue, 07 Mar 2006 00:00:00 GMT

From the beginnings in Switzerland in the early 20th Century, Holcim has grown to become one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates as well as downstream activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt including services. The Group holds majority and minority interests in more than 70 countries on all continents and employs some 61'000 people.  As one of the top three international cement companies, Holcim has had its presence in China for several years already.  However, it has not been well known by the cement industry in China.  Following introduction of Mr. Christoph Moellers, Chief Representative of Holcim Beijing Office, the reporter of chinacements.com unveils the mystery of Holcim.
China strategy of Holcim
Compared with Lafarge which covers all areas in southwestern China, Holcim looks more prudent-going.  When entering new markets, Holcim takes its own way, which is to build on strong partnerships.  Holcim has long been interested in the Hubei market.  In 1999, Holcim became a partner in Huaxin Cement as one of the top five cement producers in China and has since then continuously strengthened its cooperation with Huaxin. Huaxin is strategically well positioned with production facilities throughout Hubei province, as well as in Nantong,  Suzhou and other markets. Holcim brings in its knowledge and experience to support Huaxin to further strengthen their position. 
If there are further attractive opportunities in the Chinese market, Holcim will evaluate them.  Year 2005 witnessed many M&A deals in China, such as Lafarge with Shui On, Heidelberg with Jidong, and etc., but Holcim has no typical M&A target.  Due to fierce competition and unforeseeable market factors, it is always difficult to assess who will prevail in market consolidation. Players doing their homework regarding profitability and cost-efficiency and meeting environmental and social standards certainly have a better longer term position and outlook for the future.  Therefore, Holcim will evaluate every opportunity carefully.
Year 2006 in eyes of Holcim
Another new year has just arrived.  In view of Holcim, the Chinese cement industry is coping with a number of problems, predominantly the fact that cement prices are extremely low in international comparison. Holcim expects - among other things - that the industry will continue the started consolidation and strong players will strive to further strengthen their position. The ratio of new- vs. old-technology cement will improve and the industry as a whole will benefit from these changes. Under the new five year plan, the topic of sustainability will become more important, and co-processing of alternative fuels and raw materials in cement operations will gain momentum in the next five years.  In Year 2006, the Chinese cement industry will go further ahead along the direction of sustainable development and environmental protection.  The cement production technology will undergo deeper innovation, and the market will appear more prosperous.  The year is indeed an anticipating one for Holcim.
The Internationalization of Chinese cement enterprises in eyes of Holcim
Chinese cement companies are growing.  Companies like Conch Cement and Shanshui Cement will gradually become competitive players in the international cement market.  Mr. Moellers thinks that there is no single formula for being successful internationally. But it is very important to understand the way of business and the culture of the markets you are entering.  The internationalization of Chinese cement enterprises is the momentum.  However, being an international company also implies greater responsibility – not only towards shareholders but all the stakeholders.  Holcim strives to cope with this responsibility by its mindset: the triple-bottom-line-approach of value creation, sustainable environmental performance and corporate social responsibility.
Holcim Awards for sustainable construction
Mr. Moellers looks quite proud of the Holcim Awards for sustainable construction.  Holcim Awards, launched by Holcim Foundation and famous for its highest prize money in the international construction industry, is still in process.  The Holcim Awards prizes for the region Asia Pacific were announced in Beijing in September.  Following five regional competitions, 15 Award-winning projects will now compete in the first global Holcim Awards competition for sustainable construction projects. The global Holcim Awards winners will be announced in Bangkok in April 2006.  The next cycle will be initiated by the Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction in Shanghai, China in mid-2007.  This is a platform for architects and construction professionals to exchange information on creating a sustainable built environment and thus advance sustainable development.
Holcim Awards for sustainable construction are guided by the internationally accepted definition of sustainable development: 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.  As the organizer, Holcim has set a live example of sustainable development, which is embedded in the organization by corporate policies and effective management systems. It is supported by a transparent communications and stakeholder engagement approach. And, most importantly, it is understood and lived by Holcim employees in their daily work.
Multicultural Holcim
As an international company, Holcim is used to integrate different cultures..  The upper management of about a thousand people alone represents 56 nationalities with no dominating one. This diversity is Holcim's strength. Important for success is the common will to team up with each other despite the cultural varieties. People joining Holcim have to be aware of that. What's necessary is flexibility, ability to listen and to approach the other with respect and without any reservation.
Holcim also sees its Group companies in the various countries primarily as local companies rather than as branches of the Group and grants them as much autonomy as possible within the frame of the Group's standards and policies.