CRH has spent EUR 168m on acquisitions during the first six months of 2005, seven deals in Europe and 17 in North America. In addition the Dublin-based group announced seven capital expenditure programmes totalling EUR 63m, the two largest of which are in Europe, a new lime kiln in Poland and converting the Podilsky cement works in the Ukraine from gas to solid fuel burning. Both these projects should be completed early in 2007. The acquisition of the Stradal concrete products business from Saint Gobain will fall into the second half.
While the Irish market remains competitive, overall volumes are ahead. Cement prices are improving, with a 4.5% price increase for bagged cement introduced at the beginning of the year and a 7% rise in list prices for bulk cement was announced in March that should be phased in over the rest of the year. Downstream prices are being moved up gradually.