BUILDING materials giant CRH has issued a €750m Eurobond with a 2.75pc coupon, or interest rate – the cheapest debt Ireland's biggest company has ever raised in the capital markets.
The seven-year bond matures in 2020 and it marks CRH's fourth issue in the Eurobond market. It previously issued a five-year, €750m bond in 2009, a seven-year, €500m bond in 2012 and a €750m, 10-year bond in April this year.
The bond was heavily oversubscribed, with interest for €2.5bn worth of the bonds having been registered by a total of 167 investors from more than 20 countries. The bond has been rated BBB+ by Standard & Poor's.
Separately, the UK's Competition Commission has paved the way for a new cement manufacturer to enter the British market. The watchdog has provisionally ordered CRH rival Lafarge Tarmac to sell a cement plant to facilitate a new entrant.
In a preliminary finding in May, the commission determined that there were features of the UK market that "either alone, or in combination, prevent, restrict or distort competition such that there are adverse effects on competition". The Competition Commission focused its probe on Lafarge Tarmac, Cemex and Hanson, a unit of Heidelberg Cement.
CRH had told the watchdog it would be interested in buying cement plants in Britain if they came up for sale.
Peter Goode, managing director of Wicklow-based cement importer Eircem, told the commission "there is no free competition" in the sector in Europe.
"The best way to disturb the balance of a market where producers have focused on retaining their respective market shares rather than competing is to create the opportunity for a major new entrant," said Competition Commission deputy chairman and chairman of the cement inquiry group, Martin Cave yesterday.
"In addition, we will tackle the channels which facilitate the flow of information between the British cement producers, such as price announcement letters and industry data."