Lafarge said to be drawing interest from gypsum unit

Lafarge said to be drawing interest from gypsum unit
Published: 20 January 2011

Lafarge SA drawing interest from buyout firms for its gypsum business, according to recent Bloomberg reports.

Firms including TPG Capital, Carlyle Group LP and PAI Partners are preparing for a sale this year and may consider bids for all or parts of the operations, said the people, who requested anonymity as Lafarge hasn’t made a decision. A sale may not happen soon because the U.S. unit is still unprofitable and Lafarge may wait for a recovery, the people said.

The unit may fetch at least EUR450m or even top EUR1bn, provided profit recovers, analysts said. Chief Executive Officer Bruno Lafont, who ran the unit until 2003, has pledged to step up disposals to cut debt. The cement maker aims to retain investment-grade credit ratings after borrowing to make a US$15bn acquisition in North Africa in early 2008, just before a construction slump in Europe and the US set in.