Lafarge not bidding for Loma Negra for time being

Lafarge not bidding for Loma Negra for time being
Published: 29 October 2004

Lafarge, the world’s largest cement maker, is not bidding for now for Loma Negra, Argentina’s largest cement company, but might have a change of heart in future if the price is right, CEO Bernard Kasriel said. In an interview with Reuters late on Thursday, Lafarge’s Kasriel said: "We are not in the game for now, but may be in future." Loma Negra, which accounts for 48 per cent of the Argentine cement market, is putting itself up for sale in a possible $1 billion deal.

Analysts have said they saw Lafarge as a possible buyer and said its chances were strengthened after the world’s number 3 cement maker, Mexico’s Cemex, said in late September that it was no longer looking at buying Loma Negra after it agreed to pay $4.2 billion for Britain’s RMC Group.

Kasriel reiterated his strategy of making small and medium-sized acquisitions and said he saw no need to change that after Cemex’s RMC transaction.  Cemex’s acquisition of RMC gives it a much bigger presence in Europe but still leaves it nipping at the heels of Swiss Holcim, the world’s number 2 cement maker, and Lafarge. "With the size that we have now and our geographic spread, acquisitions are an opportunity, not a must," Kasriel said.

Kasriel also confirmed that the company expected full-year operating profit to grow by more than 10 percent excluding currency fluctuations and barring unusually adverse weather conditions.