Lafarge retreats from Maryland-D.C. market in Bluegrass Materials deal

Sources: Lafarge Group, Paris; Bluegrass Materials, Jacksonville, Fla.; CP staff

Lafarge North America’s pull back from key U.S. positions continues with the planned sale of Baltimore and western Maryland aggregates businesses to a four-year-old company backed by members of Florida Rock Industries’ founding family.

“This acquisition significantly expands our footprint along the eastern seaboard and we are delighted to bring these quarries and their employees into the Bluegrass family,” says Bluegrass Materials CEO Ted Baker II. The $320 million Maryland deal follows by one year the company’s agreement to acquire four Lafarge North America quarries in Georgia.

Bluegrass Materials is a subsidiary of Panadero Aggregates Holdings LLC, which Ted Baker II and John D. Baker II—two years removed from the Vulcan Materials Co. takeover of Florida Rock—formed with an eye to developing and operating construction materials businesses. An August 2010 deal with Cemex USA, spanning seven quarries, three aggregate distribution sites and a concrete block plant in Kentucky, was the Bluegrass Materials springboard.

In the wake of the Maryland transaction, Lafarge Group notes that it has largely completed a refocusing on core U.S. markets, which it serves through “a strong network of integrated positions mainly located in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River regions.” The remaining portfolio includes nine cement or clinker grinding plants and associated terminals, with a combined capacity of 11 million tons, plus related aggregates and concrete businesses—nine Maryland ready mixed plants among the latter.

U.S. asset streamlining has entailed four deals, valued at well over $1.5 billion, since 2011. They have seen Lafarge North America vacate or streamline three major cement, concrete and aggregate platform businesses—serving Baltimore–Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Denver metro markets—gained in Lafarge Group’s 1997 and 2001 takeovers of Redland Plc and Blue Circle Industries Plc, respectively. Lafarge North America exited another key market, Kansas City, unloading cement, concrete and aggregate assets pre-dating the Redland and Blue Circle deals.

In addition to Bluegrass Materials, suitors for the former Lafarge North America properties are, by scope of transaction: Argos USA (Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina); Eagle Materials (Kansas City, Great Plains); Martin Marietta Materials (Denver, Front Range businesses); and, Summit Materials (Wichita, Kan.).