March 19, 2020 / 6:29 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-HeidelbergCement freezes hiring, investments on coronavirus crisis

* Cannot give 2020 outlook currently - CEO

* Considers shortened working hours, unpaid leave

* Postpones annual general meeting (Recasts, adds details from slides, context)

FRANKFURT, March 19 (Reuters) - HeidelbergCement, the world's No.2 cement maker, on Thursday said it has stopped all non-essential spending and hiring in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

"We have to assess the situation day by day," Chief Executive Dominik von Achten said. "At the moment, we are not able to predict how long the precautionary measures will last, and which impact is to be expected on the construction activities in each country."

HeidelbergCement, which competes with larger rival LafargeHolcim, said it could not give an outlook for 2020 as the ongoing spread of the coronavirus brought numerous economies to a standstill.

Apart from the hiring freeze, the group is also considering shortened working hours and would urge employees to cut overtime, take vacation days or take unpaid leave, it said in presentation slides.

HeidelbergCement, which confirmed preliminary results released last month, also postponed its annual general meeting, which was originally scheduled for May 7, due to the spread of the virus. (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; editing by Thomas Seythal and Edward Taylor)

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