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Holcim takes concrete steps

Holcim takes concrete steps
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Holcim has said it will cut costs and raise the prices of its cement and other building materials to meet financial targets.

The company – which is the world’s second-biggest cement maker – has been hit by deteriorating demand in cash-strapped Europe and high energy costs.

Europe is the Swiss firm’s second-largest market by sales, after Asia-Pacific.

It is most likely to raise prices for its products in Asia, Latin America, the US and Canada where markets are more robust.

Second-quarter net profit rose 9.2 percent to 379 million Swiss francs (315 million euros) on slightly higher sales of 5.6 billion francs (4.66 billion euros), which was chiefly due to strong demand from emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Russia.

The firm’s construction industry customers, especially those in southern Europe at the heart of the debt crisis, are suffering as governments slash spending in an attempt to get budgets under control.

At the same time, Holcim and rivals Lafarge, HeidelbergCement and Cemex have been trying to pass a surge in electricity, coal and oil costs on to customers by hiking the prices of their products.