Israel: CRH may end its involvement with a hugely controversial Israeli company whose cement has been used to manufacture barriers for a widely condemned security wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian West Bank.
CRH owns a 25% stake in Israel's only cement producer, Mashav and for years has drawn fire from shareholders and international pressure groups for retaining its holding in the company, which it bought in 2001. Mashav is the holding company for a firm called Nesher Cement, the cement of which has been used to construct the wall dividing the West Bank from Israel. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign is among the groups that has put pressure on CRH to divest its stake in Mashav and has previously staged protests at CRH annual general meetings.
CRH has previously pointed out that, while it owns a 25% stake in Mashav, the group isn't directly involved in the production of concrete products in Israel. The company has also insisted that Mashav can't discriminate against who it sells concrete to and that the Israeli firm's concrete has also been sold to the Palestinian Authority.
But the new chief executive of CRH, Albert Manifold, has been spearheading a sweeping review of CRH's businesses that could see a number of them, including its stake in Mashav, being put up for sale. In February 2014 Manifold said that CRH has so far identified 45 businesses that will be put on the block. CRH finance director Maeve Carton said that the units have been singled out for not meeting 'Those criteria we have of being able to deliver improved margins and growth into the future.'
In a detailed annual report, CRH said that 34 of the 45 businesses that it's planning to sell are in Europe and another 11 in the US. CRH also said that it wrote off a total of Euro105m from the value of a 50% stake in Turkey's Denizli Cement and its 25% stake in Mashav. That has fuelled speculation that CRH may also seek to offload its holding in Mashav. A spokesman for the company declined to comment. CRH has not identified any specific businesses that it plans to sell as part of its review.