The previous management of HeidelbergCement tried to sell the Maxit mortars and expanded clay business, but failed to attract any suitable offers and withdrew it from the market in January of 2003. Since then, not only has Maxit’s profitability improved, but there has been a considerable investor appetite for building materials companies, particularly those that are well focussed.
Maxit’s trading performance has been considerably helped by improved volumes in markets such as Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and China. While officially considering all options for the business, indications are that HeidelbergCement looking to either sell out to a financial or trade buyer or to float the company on the stock market, possibly initially maintaining a sizeable shareholding.
With the increased investor interest, it can only be a matter of time before HeidelbergCement announces the disposal of Hanson’s building products businesses, covering bricks and concrete products. Last year, the Hanson building products operations in North America and Great Britain generated a turnover of €1,836.3m and a trading profit of EUR271.1m.
By comparison, Maxit had a turnover of EUR1,234m and a trading profit of €53m. Going forward, HeidelbergCement clearly sees its future in cement and aggregates, with ready-mixed concrete being a means of selling both, while other businesses are likely to be divested.