Zurich, Switzerland-based Holcim's long-serving Chief Executive Markus Akermann, who has been working for the company since 1978 and has been CEO since 2002, announced he would retire in early 2012, and while his retirement came as no surprise, the choice for his replacement was to many in the industry. The company named French stainless steel producer Aperam head Bernard Fontana as its new CEO.

With years of international experience to his credit, Fontana once worked for steel maker ArcelorMittal and, since 2010, has led its recently spun-off Aperam unit. He will take the reins at the world's second-largest cement maker on February 1, 2012. Rolf Soiron, Chairman of Holcim Ltd said, “We have succeeded in finding a successor with a winning personality who has a true track record in corporate leadership as well as in central group functions such as HR and sustainable development.”

Under Akermann's watch, Holcim grew its business in emerging markets such as China and India, and also strove to cut its carbon footprint. He will retain his seat on the board until his term ends in 2013, Holcim added.