LafargeHolcim CEO to Depart in Wake of Syria Controversy

Franco-Swiss building-materials company LafargeHolcim Ltd. said Monday that Chief Executive Eric Olsen will step down on July 15 despite an internal review that cleared Mr. Olsen of any wrongdoing regarding the company's operations in Syria in 2013 and 2014.

In a statement, Mr. Olsen said his decision to resign "is driven by my conviction that it will contribute to addressing strong tensions that have recently arisen around the Syria case."

"While I was absolutely not involved in, nor even aware of, any wrongdoing I believe my departure will contribute to bringing back serenity to a company that has been exposed for months on this case," he said.

Last month, LafargeHolcim disclosed the initial findings of an internal review of the company's operations in Syria in 2013 and 2014 related to alleged dealings with some armed groups to ensure the safety of plant employees.

"It appears from the investigation that the local company provided funds to third parties to work out arrangements with a number of these armed groups, including sanctioned parties, in order to maintain operations and ensure safe passage of employees and supplies to and from the plant, " LafargeHolcim said at the time.

In a statement Monday, the company said "a number of measures taken to continue safe operations at the Syrian plant were unacceptable, and significant errors of judgment were made that contravened the applicable code of conduct."

"Following an in-depth review, the board has concluded that Eric Olsen was not responsible for, nor thought to be aware of, any wrongdoings that have been identified as part of its review," LafargeHolcim said.

A search for Mr. Olsen's successor will begin immediately, the company said, and board chairman Beat Hess will serve as interim CEO after Mr. Olsen departs.

Write to Brian Blackstone at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 24, 2017 01:55 ET (05:55 GMT)