With consolidation in the European cement sector showing some acceleration of late, trying to gauge where the next deal is coming from provides industry analysts with some interesting speculation. High on the rumour mill is Irish-based CRH and its apparent desire to gain a better position in the Spanish cement and construction sectors. Reviewing the possibilities, independent cement producers in northern Spain and particularly the Catalonian region would be likely targets and top of the list here is the privately-owned business of Uniland Cement Group with its two plants close to Barcelona and good downstream integration. Further cement production interests in Tunisia, plus useful joint venture cement production and building material sites in Argentina and Uruguay (with another Spanish independent Cementos Molins), add extra spice to Uniland’s portfolio of assets. Recently Uniland also acquired a small but expandable independent UK cement import operation in the UK which it also supplies with cement out of Spain, where one of its plants, the 1.2Mta Vallcarca works, is ideally sited on the coast to service its growing export trades.
With an annual turnover close to Euro 400m and good profitabilty levels, Uniland would indeed be a prize for CRH’s seemingly unstoppable quest for further acquisitions. Whether Uniland’s owners have any interest in talking to any potential suitors is another matter, but as they say, everyone has his price.