Business Irish

Friday 22 September 2017

Blackrock slashes stake in CRH

CEMENT: Albert Manifold of CRH. Photo: Shane O’Neill/Fennells
CEMENT: Albert Manifold of CRH. Photo: Shane O’Neill/Fennells
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

Blackrock has dumped three million of its shares in Irish cement-maker CRH.

The share sale reduces the US investment firm's holding in CRH to 5.5pc.

It is not the only US investment group on CRH's mind at the moment. The company is about to go head-to-head with a rake of private equity groups and other investors in a bidding war for promising building assets.

It is reportedly bidding for some of the large cement businesses that building giants Lafarge and Holcim need to sell to gain regulatory approval for a merger. The Lafarge-Holcim merger, unveiled in April, would create the world's top cement group with €35bn in annual sales.

To get the merger over the line, the pair is seeking buyers for Holcim's French activities, Lafarge's German ones and other operations in Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Britain, Canada, the Philippines, Mauritius and Brazil. The sell-off would affect some 10,000 workers.

Four consortiums are also rumoured to be bidding for the assets. Eircom shareholder Blackstone, Cinven and Canadian pension fund CPP are expected to bid jointly in one consortium.

Advent and BC Partners will form another. CVC is among the firms in the third consortium and Bain and Onex make up the fourth.

Bids valuing the assets at between €5bn and €7bn are expected.

CRH is embroiled in a disposal plan at the same time. New chief executive Albert Manifold plans to sell at least 10pc - or €1.5bn to €2bn worth of net assets.

The cement giant is mainly aiming to get rid of smaller, European product-type subsidiaries in contrast to the larger cement businesses it hopes to buy from Lafarge/Holcim.

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