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Shares in cement group Lafarge fall as merger talks stall

Two shareholders of its Swiss merger partner Holcim appear unhappy with revised deal terms

Holcim and Lafarge agreed a merger to create the world’s biggest cement maker with more than $40 billion in sales and cut overcapacities and energy expenses. However, merger talks appear to be stalling. (Photograph: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg)

Shares in French cement group Lafarge fell by around 2 per cent on Monday after two shareholders of its Swiss merger partner Holcim appeared unhappy with revised deal terms that were designed to placate them.

Russian businessman Filaret Galchev, who owns a 10.8 per cent stake in Holcim via Eurocement Holding AG, has rejected the new merger terms, which give Holcim shareholders a more favourable share exchange and which remove Lafarge boss Bruno Lafont from the role of CEO of the combined group.

Galchev, Holcim’s second-largest shareholder, views the terms as “not satisfactory and half-baked”, the Sonntagszeitung reported, citing an unnamed source described as a Galchev confidant.

Separately, Harris Associates said it was not prepared to back the deal until it knows who will take Lafont’s place. “Before we decide on the transaction we first want to know who will be put forward for this post,” David Herro, chief investment officer for international equities at Harris, said in an interview with Swiss business newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft.

Harris owns 3.19 per cent of Holcim’s shares according to Thomson Reuters data.

Irish construction giant CRH has agreed to buy € 6.5 billion worth of assets from the proposed merged entity of Holcim-Lafarge.