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LafargeHolcim: One-off charge won't impact commitments

The world's largest cement company, LafargeHolcim, swung to a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2015 after booking impairment and other charges, but stuck to its planned dividend.

The group recorded a net loss of 2.86 billion Swiss francs ($2.93 billion) in the fourth quarter, after booking 3 billion Swiss francs in charges that included asset impairments.

"It's a one-off non-cash charge. It's really associated with the year of transition where we brought these two fantastic industry leaders together to create LafargeHolcim," Eric Olsen, CEO and chairmen of LafargeHolcim, told CNBC Thursday.

"It in no way impacts the mid-term commitments we made for 2018... this is a natural consequence of a portfolio review we did in 2015 and the implementation of our 1.5 billion in synergies that we're putting in place right now," he added. "It's a 3 billion charge out of a 55 billion balance sheet."

France's Lafarge and Swiss peer Holcim merged last year to become the world's biggest cement maker. The company said in its statement Thursday its merger was largely completed and integration is on track. It had exceeded its 2015 targets on capital expenditure, synergies and net debt, it said.

Olsen said that he was confident that the markets would reward the group for a stronger performance in the years to come.

"What we did in 2015 is we prepared ourselves to deliver on 2016, '17, '18 commitments – and right now we have everything in place. We have the organization in place, we have 1.5 billion of synergy action plans in place, we have a demand environment that is growing steadily and we have a pricing environment that is improving as well, so we have everything in place to deliver on our targets going forward," Olsen told CNBC.

The Swiss-French company said it was on track to its hit 2018 targets. Those were announced in November and include a focus on synergies and costs as well as lean capital spending.

The cement maker said in a press release that its fourth quarter results were impacted by challenges in selected markets, most notably Brazil, Switzerland, China, Indonesia, Zambia, Nigeria and Azerbaijan.

However, Olsen told CNBC that the company is not seeing much of the emerging markets crisis.

"It's not the business reality that we're seeing... It's true there are a few pockets of difficult markets. China and Brazil in particular but there's a lot of markets growing attractively and solidly in 2016 and the emerging market growth continues, is the real message and we see it," Olsen said to CNBC.

Demand in mature and developing markets is expected to grow between 2-4 percent, taking into account the challenging economic headwinds in selected emerging markets that will continue, the group said in a press release.

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