Lafarge SE deal consolidates Argos’ Carolinas-to-Texas footprint

Sources: Cementos Argos, Medellin; Lafarge Group, Paris

By Don Marsh

Argos officials cite a significant presence across the Southeast on the heels of a $760 million transaction spanning Lafarge North America assets in the region: 79 ready mixed plants in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana; Harleyville, S.C., and Roberta, Ala., cement plants, plus Atlanta-area clinker grinding mill; and, six cement terminals (five rail, one port).

The concrete properties bridge the Carolinas and Texas platform businesses, Ready Mixed Concrete Co. and Southern Star Concrete, that put Argos on the North American map. They position it as the second-largest ready mixed operator in the Southeast, behind Cemex USA, and among the industry’s top producers—alongside Cemex and Lafarge NA, plus Holcim (US)/Aggregate Industries, Oldcastle Materials, and Lehigh Hanson. Toward a market recovery in 2012 and resumption of recession-idled assets, Argos is equipped with an estimated 1,700- to 2,000-mixer fleet and 200-plus ready mixed plants.

The Lafarge Southeast asset sale marks the latest move by major operators hailing from Mexico or South America to enter the U.S. cement and concrete supply and production chain. It follows by eight months the Cemex move to consolidate by fall 2011 its stake in Alabama-based Ready Mix USA. As Cemex defined its U.S. role in three prior acquisitions (Southdown, RMC, Rinker) dating to 2000, Brazil’s Votorantim and Mexico’s GCC completed a series of integrated-asset deals in the Great Lakes, Great Plains and Florida markets.