CRH agrees to buy Lafarge, Holcim assets for €6.5bn

Building materials group CRH has entered into a binding commitment to acquire certain assets from European rivals Lafarge and Holcim, who are offloading these businesses to win regulatory approval for a €35 billion merger announced last year.

The company, which said it will fund the acquisition with cash, new debt and a 9.99 percent equity placing, beat a consortium led by Blackstone BX.N, whom several people familiar with the matter told Reuters were also in the running.

CRH is already the United States’ leading producer of asphalt for highway construction.

Albert Manifold, CRH Chief Executive, said: “This transaction represents a significant value creation opportunity for CRH.

We are acquiring a quality portfolio of assets, which complement our existing positions, at an attractive valuation and at the right point of the cycle. The acquisition strengthens our presence in important markets across North America, Western, Central and Eastern Europe as well as providing new platforms for growth in emerging markets.

“The assets will integrate well into existing CRH networks benefiting from our strong business-building capabilities while providing an important platform for future development opportunities.”

France’s Lafarge and Swiss peer Holcim announced merger plans last year, hoping to cut costs and tackle overcapacity and weak demand. The new company will be the world’s biggest cement maker with $44 billion in annual sales.

One source told Reuters last month CRH was seen as the front runner having put forward the highest offer. The Blackstone consortium, which also includes Cinven [CINV.UL] and Canadian pension fund CPP, bid €5.5bn, a second source said.

A person familiar with the process had said that CRH had a better opportunity to benefit than buyout groups because it can integrate the assets into its own business, and could therefore offer a higher price.

The companies initially received more than 60 tentative bids from industry and private equity firms for some or all of the assets, which they must sell before completing the merger.

CRH, whose cement operations represent about 15 percent of earnings, embarked on its own disposal plan last year, one of the first steps Albert Maniford took as the new chief executive.