Belgian holding company Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA has amassed a 6.5 per cent stake in France’s Lafarge SA over several months after it decided the cement giant was undervalued, said Thierry de Rudder, GBL’s managing director. He declined to comment on GBL’s long-term strategy on Lafarge.
GBL, headed by Belgian financier Albert Frere, has holdings in the construction industry. The Lafarge buy is its first venture into the cement sector. Lafarge’s stock closed up 6.6 per cent at Euro 85.50 in Paris Thursday, giving Mr. Frere’s stake in the French company a value of about Euro 917m.
Lafarge was informed as early as November of GBL’s stake-building in the company, said Lafarge spokeswoman Stephanie Tessier. She said Mr Frere told Lafarge his investment was of a friendly nature. "Albert Frere has kept us regularly informed, and we have no reason to believe he will increase his stake beyond the 6.5 per cent announced Thursday," she said.
According to Lafarge’s corporate bylaws, investors in the company must keep management informed each time they acquire one per cent of its equity. Mr. Frere, known for having strong views on the companies in which he invests, hasn’t asked for a seat on Lafarge’s board, Ms. Tessier said.