The sale by the international mining group Anglo-American of Tarmac, its industrial minerals arm, which it purchased for UK£1.2bn some 10 years ago, is now being pushed forward, along with the proposed sale of its steel business. This follows an approach from fellow mining group Xstrata to Anglo-American, which has apparently forced the latter to speed up the stream-lining of its industrial empire.
With market conditions having improved since the mining house last tried to sell Tarmac, a new move looks likely to be fairly imminent. With highly geared sales to financial investors an unlikely option in the current environment, but with stock markets having improved, a public flotation could again be on the cards, especially since a number of successful rights issues by cement and aggregates companies so far this year. The recent successful capital raising moves by HeidelbergCement and Cemex, shows that the appetite is there.
Tarmac, which saw its global sakes of aggregates fall by 28.3 per cent to 34.45Mt and its ready-mixed concrete deliveries to drop by 53.9 per cent to 1.77m m³ in the first half of this year, and the EBITDA to fall by 58.1 per cent to US$122m (Euro 81m), had been doing some house-cleaning of its own in the past two years, disposing of its operations in Spain, China and India, but also moving into the currently less than exciting Turkish market. In Great Britain, Tarmac is now virtually self-sufficient in cement, as levels of demand have dropped, though using internally produced cement from its one owned-works (Tarmac-Buxton Cement) does push up transport costs, but it does at least provide an outlet for the cement when markets are tough.