Ireland: Even as it adjusts to its mammoth Euro6.5bn 2015 acquisition of LafargeHolcim’s divestments, Irish group CRH is reported to be mulling the purchase of US and Belgian cement assets, which HeidelbergCement may have to sell as a consequence of its acquisition of Italcementi. In Belgium HeidelbergCement and Italcementi have 4.5Mt/yr out of a total of 6.2Mt/yr of integrated cement capacity. In the US they share around 16.4Mt/yr out of 115Mt/yr.
Chief executive Albert Manifold told analysts that the group is focused on cutting back on its debt levels and is likely to look at assets should HeidelbergCement be forced to sell. "US cement is of interest to us and we're fully aware of the asset that may spin out of the potential acquisition," he said. "With regards to Belgium, it's a prime asset and certainly it would make a good fit with our businesses, providing the value is right."
CRH is also currently linked with a possible US$1.5bn acquisition of LafargeHolcim’s Indian cement businesses. The apparent enthusiasm CRH has with respect to expand is at odds with the majority of major players in the cement sector, many of which are going through periods of transition or are struggling with debt. "I'm always interested to open the paper and see what businesses we're bidding on,” added Manifold. “People are trying to talk up competition on deals. We're probably in 10% of the stuff we're associated with."
CRH’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew to almost Euro1bn following a ‘positive trading backdrop’ in its main markets in the first three months of the 2016.