Monday 19 March 2018

CRH chief sees 'no situation' where Irish company would supply materials to build Trump's border wall

Donald Trump made a border wall one of the key policies of his campaign
Donald Trump made a border wall one of the key policies of his campaign
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The boss of Ireland's biggest company, CRH, has insisted that its US businesses won't supply materials for the construction of Donald Trump's planned wall between America and Mexico, because a "situation doesn't arise where that could possibly occur".

CRH is the biggest building materials supplier in North America, where it generated sales of €14.2bn last year - most of it from the United States. Just over half of those sales - 55pc - are connected to infrastructure projects, such as highways.

Albert Manifold, the chief executive of the global building materials giant, said that CRH's geographic spread in the United States is primarily focused on the north-east and midwest.

"We've a broad-based business through the United States - in fact we're present in all 50," he said. "But one area where we do not have any significant presence is in the extreme south of the United States. The materials we supply are local by nature."

He said CRH has "no significant operations anywhere near" areas including southern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California - states where the wall would be built.

Mr Manifold pointed out that while CRH has a presence in Texas for instance, it mainly does business in cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.

Last year, CRH sold its 25pc stake in Israel's only cement firm, Mashav, ending a focus of significant controversy for the group. CRH's annual general meetings had been targeted by pro-Palestinian activists, who had urged it to sell the holding. Cement produced by Mashav had been used to build barriers for the security wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian West Bank.

Mr Manifold was speaking after CRH released strong results for 2016, with its revenue rising 15pc to €27.1bn and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 41pc to €3.1bn.

CRH boss Albert Manifold
CRH boss Albert Manifold

The performance was skewed by the inclusion for the full-year of €6.5bn of assets that were acquired in 2015 from Lafarge Holcim. CRH also bought US firm CR Laurence in 2015 for $1.3bn. On a pro-forma basis, revenue was 4pc higher last year, and EBITDA was up 10pc.

CRH generated slightly more than 61pc of its EBITDA in the Americas, where it generated just over 52pc of its revenue.

The company said that so far this year it has made eight acquisitions worth a total of €500m, and agreed to sell six businesses for a total of €400m.

CRH also slashed its debt metrics, despite its huge 2015 spending spree. That gives it the capacity to make between €2bn and €3bn worth of acquisitions over the next 18 months.

But Mr Manifold said that despite having "a pile of acquisition proposals" on his desk, CRH would remain disciplined in pursuing and executing deals.

Indo Business

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