Europe: The European Commission (EC), the European Union's antitrust authority, has approved the proposed merger of Lafarge and Holcim, subject to asset sales by both companies in regions where their activities overlap. The EC's approval is conditional upon the divestment of Lafarge's businesses in Germany, Romania and the UK. Holcim is required to divest its operations in France, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain and the Czech Republic. The proposed transaction concerns assets worth several billion Euros and will create the world's largest cement producer with operations in 90 countries.
"The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as originally notified, would have had a detrimental effect on competition in a significant number of markets in the European Economic Area (EEA)," said the EC. "The commitments offered by the two companies address these concerns."
According to the EC, its assessment found that the merged entity would have faced insufficient competitive pressure from remaining players in many markets. This would have brought a risk of price rises. In order to prevent a negative impact on competition, the companies have committed to divesting most of the operations where their activities overlap. Further, the EC said that Holcim and Lafarge will not be allowed to close the deal until it has approved the buyers of the assets put up for sale.
In April 2014, Holcim and Lafarge announced their plan to combine through an all share merger of equals to create LafargeHolcim, with nearly Euro32bn in sales. The proposed combination would be structured as a public exchange offer initiated by Holcim for all outstanding shares of Lafarge on the basis of a 1 for 1 exchange ratio. The companies also agreed to have equal dividends on a per share basis between announcement and completion. The offer would be subject to Holcim holding at least 2/3rd of the share capital and voting rights of Lafarge.