CRH has said its strong position in the Irish cement industry is likely to stop it making any bid for Quinn Cement if the Quinn Group ultimately breaks up, the Irish Independent reports.
British construction group Laing O’Rourke is reported to have expressed an interest in the Quinn cement and building materials businesses, but CRH chief executive Myles Lee said his company would probably not be allowed to bid because its combined market share would be too high.
Speaking after the company’s AGM, Mr Lee declined to comment on what was going to happen to companies like Quinn Cement, which is relying on export business as the Irish market contracts sharply.
Mr Lee said the Irish cement market had contracted by 60pc and another 20pc was possible.
"We are in for a tough two to three years,’’ said Mr Lee, when asked what is likely to happen to the cement industry, which is suffering from huge overcapacity in Ireland.
CRH’s own subsidiary Irish Cement is in the process of letting staff go.
"We are looking after our own patch,’’ said Mr Lee. He said the Irish construction market would be "stagnant’’ for several years, although a large infrastructure programme by the Government might help.
It was very difficult to say whether house prices had bottomed out, he added.
CRH said yesterday that like-for-like sales fell by 23.5pc in the first two months of the year, but this sales decline slowed significantly in March and April to about 7pc.
In a trading statement, the building materials group said indicators from the US were more positive and this was vital as about half of CRH’s earnings come from that market.
Mr Lee said the company was looking at a range of bolt-on acquisitions and a number of its competitors were burdened with debt forcing them to sell assets. Acquisitions were most likely in its US materials business.