Shares in Holcim and Lafarge rose strongly today as speculation swirled that the world’s two largest cement makers could merge. By 6:19 a.m. EDT, shares in Holcim had risen 6.2 per cent to 89.50 Swiss francs, while Lafarge shares had gained 5 percent to 84.65 euros (report Reuters newswires).
However, analysts doubted the likelihood of a deal. "This does not make much sense in the cement industry. A merger between two big groups would not benefit either of them. There would be many countries where competition authorities would block the deal," analysts at Oddo securities said.
Traders in Switzerland said there was also talk that a large foreign investor, possibly a Russian, may be building up a stake in Holcim, which is the world’s second largest cement maker after Lafarge.
One trader said the falling oil price was behind the rise in Holcim’s shares. "You really don’t have to look too far for the reasons. The shares are seeing a correction as the group has suffered from the strong rise in energy and transport costs. Now, things have eased since the oil price has fallen to $90 per barrel," he said.