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Heidelberg maps Italcementi integration for home turf, mum on North America

Sources: HeidelbergCement AG, Heidelberg, Germany; CP staff

iLab 400

The iLab Centre in Bergamo will serve as the merged businesses' lead research & development facility, and house remaining Italcementi headquarters staff. Photo: Italcementi S.p.A.

Advancing a proposed merger with mid-year target, HeidelbergCement Chairman Dr. Bernd Scheifele announced plans to restructure Italcementi S.p.A. operations, principally at its Bergamo, Italy, headquarters and affecting upward of 400 employees through 2020; consolidate global technical activities at Italcementi’s i.Lab Research & Innovation Centre, a Bergamo facility opened in 2013; and, maintain the Italcementi brand plus homebased plants and industrial network.

“Integration will combine two of the leading global industry players, which share a long-standing tradition of industrial culture, world-class innovation capabilities, and strong leadership in their respective markets,” said Dr. Scheifele, outlining the merger status April 5. “Following our motto ‘all business is local,’ it is important for us to preserve Italcementi's strengths and professional expertise, which have ensured its success in Italy and abroad. I am convinced we will be able to achieve the planned [$450 million] € 400 million in synergies and bring Italcementi back to profits by operational improvements, streamlining the administration and leveraging the increased size of our combined business.”

The parent of Irving, Texas-based Lehigh Hanson Inc., HeidelbergCement has submitted a formal proposal to the European Commission, one of two regulatory agencies whose clearance is required to effect the Italcementi union. Topping proposed competition matters is divestment of Italcementi’s Compagnie des Ciments Belges S.A. business, with integrated production in Belgium and the Netherlands. Its sale would relieve otherwise limited European-market overlap between HeidelbergCement and Italcementi.

A second regulatory agency, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, stands to review the competitive effects of a merged business encompassing Lehigh Hanson and Essroc Cement Corp., Nazareth, Pa. The Italcementi integration announcement did not reference specific actions in the U.S., where Lehigh Hanson and Essroc Cement have closely situated cement production and distribution in certain Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes markets.

The merger appears pacing a projected 12-month timetable noted in July 2015, when HeidelbergCement—shortly after seeing its French and Swiss contemporaries team to form LafargeHolcim Ltd.—entered into an agreement to acquire a 45 percent Italcementi stake from the holding company Itamobiliare S.p.A. A second merger step involves a HeidelbergCement offer for remaining, publicly traded Italcementi shares.

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