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Down Under: Construction materials giant CRH is said to be looking at Australian firms

Down Under: Construction materials giant CRH is said to be looking at Australian firms

Down Under: Construction materials giant CRH is said to be looking at Australian firms

Building materials group CRH is reportedly looking at a number of businesses in Australia.

The company already has a presence in the market following a 2018 acquisition.

Among the firms said to be on the construction giant's radar is Boral, which has a market capitalisation of AU$5.2bn (€3.2bn). CRH was linked to the company - an integrated construction materials and building products manufacturer and supplier - earlier this year.

A report in the Australian Financial Review this week said CRH has employees examining Australian construction and building groups.

It said it's understood the operatives have spent the past 12 months or more making sense of Australia's building materials sector, at a time when major Australian players Boral, Fletcher Building, ADBRI and Perth's BGC Group "are all in play".

However, CRH would face domestic opposition for any potential acquisitions, it added.

"This is not the first time CRH has linked to Boral - in January 2020 Global Cement reported that CRH had interest in Boral," said David O'Brien, analyst at Goodbody.

"Management indicated that a move into Australia would make strategic sense given it's a developed market and it would not provide any competition issues," he added.

CRH's presence in Australia includes Ancon Building Products and Cubis Systems Australia.

In its 2019 annual report, CRH said the Australian business benefited from demand in the high-rise residential market and was boosted by an acquisition earlier in 2018.

When contacted by the Irish Independent a spokesperson for CRH said: "We do not comment on speculation regarding our development intentions."

Last month, CRH said it would be more cautious with mergers and acquisitions going forward, as it suspended its share buyback programme.

The building materials giant, which generated a record $1bn (€844m) in cash in the first half of this year, returned $800m to shareholders by way of dividend and share buybacks in the six-month period.

Since May 2018, CRH has returned cash of $2bn to shareholders through share buybacks. However, the board has paused the programme until further notice due to the current volatility.

The company spent €727m last year, on just over 60 acquisitions and investments.

Shares in CRH were relatively unchanged yesterday.

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