CRH reportedly places bid for Indian business

Iseq heavyweight believed to be in for cement business being sold by LafargeHolcim

Building materials giant CRH is reported to have submitted a bid for an Indian cement business being sold by Franco-Swiss rival LafargeHolcim, which is valued at $1.5 billion (€1.3 billion).

CRH counts among ten suitors, including trade and financial firms to have submitted initial offers this week for the business, which has capacity for 11 million tonnes of cement a year, according to a report in MergerMarket. Others include private equity houses Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group as well as Mumbai-based JWS Cement and Piramal Group.

However, analysts said CRH is unlikely to have a big appetite for the deal as it concentrates on lowering its debt ratios following its purchase last year of €6.5 billion of assets which Lafarge and Holcim were forced by competition authorities to sell following their merger.

Jason Molins said that given the size of the Indian assets for sale, he is ``not unduly surprised'' that CRH has been linked to the process. However, he views the company's interest as ``low, given CRH is currently in a deleveraging mode.''


CRH, which entered the Indian market in 2008 with the acquisition of a stake in a cement business called My Home Industries in Andhra Predash in southern India, said in March as it unveiled full-year results that it focused on restoring its ``debt metrics'' to normalised levels this year.

A spokesman for CRH declined to comment on the report.

Ratings agency Fitch raised its outlook on CRH's debt to stable from negative on Friday, saying it expects the company to remain committed to its BBB credit rating, which ranks at the lower end of what it considers investment grade, and focus on restoring its credit ratios.