IRISH building materials firm CRH has confirmed that it is in talks to buy the assets that Holcim and Lafarge are selling off in advance of their mega-merger.
The Dublin-based company said that while there can be no certainty that the discussions will result in a transaction, if an acquisition goes ahead it will most likely be funded through a combination of existing cash balances, debt and an equity placing.
Sources told Reuters yesterday that CRH was putting together an offer of €6bn (£4.5bn) for the assets, however the firm declined to comment on the figure.
Investment firm Blackstone is leading a rival bid, heading up a consortium which includes private equity house Cinven and Canadian pension fund CPP. The group is putting forward a bid of €5.5bn for the assets, according to a source. Blackstone also declined to comment.
French cement company Lafarge and its Swiss competitor Holcim unveiled a share-for-share deal in April last year, proposing a “merger of equals” with sales of €32bn.
The firms are hoping to pre-empt the competition watchdogs by offering to sell assets in their biggest markets, and in December the EU approved the deal, subject to the sale of overlapping operations in 15 countries. Two thirds of the disposals will come from developing countries and the rest from emerging markets.
In the UK, the assets on the block include Lafarge Tarmac, Lafarge’s joint venture with Anglo American, which owns 100 quarries, and Holcim-owned Aggregate Industries, which has around 70 .
Shares in CRH went up by 2.57 per cent yesterday.