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Lafarge, Holcim merger ushers realignment of U.S. and Canadian markets

Sources: CP staff; U.S. Federal Trade Commission; Canadian Competition Bureau

Officials in Washington, D.C., and Ottawa confirmed in early-May consent agreements the approved scope or direction of Lafarge North America, Holcim (US) Inc. and Holcim (Canada) Inc. operations following the Lafarge S.A. and Holcim Ltd. merger.

Federal Trade Commission and Canadian Competition Bureau conducted individual investigations on the proposed merger’s effect on portland cement and slag cement markets. They jointly examined export activity of the Holcim (Canada) Mississauga, Ont., plant to U.S. terminals in the Great Lakes and Northeast, and the Holcim (US) Three Forks, Mont., plant to two Alberta terminals. Informing the agencies was a revised guideline, “Best Practices on Cooperation in Merger Investigations,” adopted two weeks prior to an April 2014 announcement on the proposed merger creating LafargeHolcim.

Asset sales anchoring the FTC and CCB consent agreements represent an unprecedented transfer of North American cementitious material production, processing and distribution capacity: Four portland cement plants, two in each country; two Holcim (US) slag cement grinding mills; and, by Concrete Products estimates, 16 U.S. (seven Lafarge, nine Holcim) and 13 Holcim (Canada) terminals. Additional assets to be sold include the remainder of Holcim (Canada)—30-plus ready mixed plants, 15-plus aggregate sites, along with integrated asphalt and construction units—under the Ontario and Quebec flagships, Dufferin and Demix.

As indicated in February, April and May announcements from Lafarge, Holcim, acquiring parties or the FTC, approved buyers and their target assets are:

  • Buzzi Unicem USA, Bethlehem, Pa.: Holcim (US) terminals in Rock Island, Ill., plus Elmira and Grandville, Mich.
  • CRH Plc, Dublin: Entire Holcim (Canada) portfolio, plus Holcim (US) Three Forks plant and terminals in Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland; Detroit and Dundee, Mich.; and, Duluth, Minn.—all integral to the Holcim Mississauga plant. Assets are earmarked for an interim operating unit, NewCo.
  • Eagle Materials, Dallas: Holcim (US) Chicago Skyway slag cement plant.
  • Essroc Cement Corp., Nazareth, Pa.: Holcim (US) Camden, N.J., slag cement plant and Everett, Mass., terminal.
  • Summit Materials LLC, Denver: Lafarge Buffalo, Iowa, cement plant and seven terminals up and down the Mississippi River, all to be integrated with Continental Cement business.

U.S. and Canadian officials have set tight deadlines for the asset sales—in some instances as little as 10 days—following the closing of the Lafarge S.A. and Holcim Ltd. merger. Officials from both companies report the merger plan is on track for July, citing shareholder approval and clearance from regulators in all applicable markets.

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