After a successful career on the BMW management board and as head of the Linde Group, an industrial gas producer, Wolfgang Reitzle was probably hoping for a quieter life when he took the role of chairman at the merged cement giant, LafargeHolcim.
But now Mr. Reitzle has found himself in the middle of a crisis management situation as the billion-euro merger of the two largest producers of building materials teeters dangerously on the edge.
A key shareholder of Switzerland-based Holcim, whose performance has perked up since the merger was announced last April, is protesting details of the deal. According to the Zurich-based newspaper Sonntagszeitung, Swiss industrialist Thomas Schmidheiny, Holcim’s majority shareholder with 20 percent, is demanding the deal be sweetened for Holcim owners.
A spokesperson for Mr. Schmidheiny didn’t deny the report, saying simply, “The industrial logic of the merger is undisputed.” Holcim responded with a cryptic message that the company “had taken note of the reactions of a certain Holcim stockholder.” Meanwhile, Lafarge made no comment.