Europe: Ireland's CRH is assuming that the LafargeHolcim merger will still happen, according to CRH chief executive Albert Manifold. "At this moment in time, we're working forward on the basis that the deal will close, the merger will happen," said Manifold. He added that he had spoken to both companies on 19 March 2015.
CRH has agreed to buy a number of mostly European assets from Lafarge and Holcim for Euro6.5bn so that Lafarge and Holcim can get antitrust clearance for their plan to merge. According to Reuters, CRH's shareholders voted to approve the acquisition on 19 March 2015 at its extraordinary general meeting. According to Manifold, the CRH vote was a procedural step that had to be done, regardless of the uncertainty at Lafarge and Holcim, as a failure to approve the asset purchase would have left CRH exposed to a potential Euro158m break-up fee.
Manifold also confirmed that if the merger should fail, the break-up fee would apply in the other direction. "Likewise, if other parties don't conclude this deal for whatever reason, we would then be in receipt of a break fee," said Manifold. "I'm not going to speculate on whether it is or isn't going to happen. There are discussions going on to decide what they want to do over the next couple of days," said Manifold, adding that CRH was interested in buying the assets even if the merger falls through.
According to CRH, the LafargeHolcim assets would transform CRH into the world's third-largest building materials supplier, the biggest in central and eastern Europe, and double its presence in emerging markets. CRH makes about half its sales in the US and wants more exposure to new markets such as the Philippines and parts of Europe it believes are beginning to recover.
Manifold said that CRH also has its eye on other acquisitions, should the purchase of Lafarge and Holcim assets fall through. "This deal is an important part of the strategy of CRH, but it is not the strategy of CRH," said Manifold.