Business Irish

Thursday 21 August 2014

CRH 'keen on expansion' in India but coy about reports of new venture

John Mulligan

Published 04/01/2013 | 05:00

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CRH chief executive Myles Lee, pictured below, has confirmed the company remains interested in expanding its presence in India after rumours that it is involved in preliminary talks about acquiring a majority stake in a cement manufacturer there.

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Reports yesterday suggested CRH and rival Holcim are in separate talks with the Shriram Group to buy a stake in Sree Jayajothi Cements, based in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Indian investment group Shriram took control of Sree Jayajothi last year. It's been reported that private equity giants Blackstone and KKR are also in separate preliminary talks with Shriram about its stake in the cement manufacturer.

Mr Lee said that CRH remained interested in expanding its presence in India, but declined to comment on speculation surrounding Sree Jayajothi. CRH "is continually looking at opportunities" in India and is "keen" to expand its presence there.

CRH pulled back from a potential acquisition in India last year. It already has a joint venture in India with cement maker My Home Industries.

The latest speculation came as CRH announced it had made acquisitions and investments valued at €630m in 2012.

The bulk of the money was spent in the US. In the last six months it spent €256m on 12 acquisitions in North America. A key investment was the acquisition of a majority stake in New Jersey-based Rock Trap Industries by the CRH Materials division. Rock Trap operates four quarries and eight asphalt operations in central and southwest New Jersey.

CRH's products division in the US acquired additional operations in Canada and also in Florida.

In Europe, CRH spent €119m in the second part of 2012. That included acquisitions in Finland, the UK and the Isle of Man.

Mr Lee confirmed that CRH retains financial firepower of between €1bn and €1.5bn to spend on deals.

Irish Independent

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